The Rise of Market Power and the Macroeconomic Implications

Jan Eeckhout

2017-05-18 - We document the evolution of markups based on firm-level data for the US economy since 1950. Initially, markups are stable, even slightly decreasing. In 1980, average markups start to rise from 18% above marginal cost to 67% now. There is no strong pattern across industries, though markups tend to be higher in smaller firms and most of the increase is due to an increase within industry. We do see a notable change in the distribution of markups with the increase exclusively due to a sharp increase in high markup firms. We then evaluate the macroeconomic implications of an increase in average market power, which can account for a number of secular trends in the last 3 decades: 1. decrease in labor force participation; 2. decrease in low skill wages; 3. increase in wage inequality; 4. decrease in labor share; 5. increase in capital share; 6. decrease in labor flows; 7. decrease in migration rates.