Inequality and Misallocation under Production Networks - Job Market Paper

In this paper, I develop an aggregation theory for distorted production network economies with heterogeneous households. I provide general decompositions for how the aggregate and distributional effects of shocks are sensitive to underlying consumer and firm heterogeneity. The workers’ value-added over labor income ratios (distortion centralities) gauge the importance of workers in the production of heavily distorted firms and are sufficient statistics for the effect of income distribution variations on TFP. The average distortion centrality faced by a household’s expenditure (expenditure centrality) and a firm’s revenue (revenue centrality) are sufficient statistics for the effect of expenditure variations on TFP. Labor misallocation rises and TFP falls as labor income shifts toward high distortion centrality workers, consumption shifts toward high expenditure centrality households, or demand shifts toward high revenue centrality firms. The reason is that when aggregate expenditure on relatively undistorted firms rises, their labor demand increases, reallocating workers from distorted firms with high marginal productivity to relatively undistorted firms with low marginal productivity. These second-best results show how distributional variations affect aggregate output by changing the aggregate allocation efficiency of workers. I estimate the first production network model with household heterogeneity for the United States. I show that variations in the income distribution have been responsible for 20% of the TFP volatility. Additionally, income distribution variations reduced misallocation between 2001 and 2009, and accentuated misallocation after the Great Recession. Heterogeneities in the production network are essential in explaining income and real consumption inequalities.