October 19, 2023
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Aussi offert en français sous le titre La concurrence au Canada de 2000 à 2020 : Une économie à la croisée des chemins
Table of contents
- Executive summary
- Competition in Canada from 2000 to 2020: An Economy at a Crossroads
- Our research methods
- Interpreting the data
- Structural indicators of competition
- Performance indicators
The Competition Bureau's role is to protect and promote competition to benefit Canadian consumers and businesses. Competition drives economic growth. It encourages businesses to innovate and become more productive. It benefits consumers because it lowers prices, increases choice and improves quality.
When businesses operate in a healthy competitive market, consumers get to choose the best option available to meet their needs and price point. Fair competition means that businesses must make a strong case to consumers that their products or services are the best choice. This leads to more, and better, products and services that meet the diverse range of consumer tastes.
As the enforcer of Canada's competition laws, the Bureau has collected extensive knowledge about the dynamics of competition in important sectors and markets. However, the purpose of this research project is not to study any particular sector or market. Instead, we wanted to get a broader view of competition in the economy as a whole.
In this report we present the findings of this research. Our objective was to examine:
- the general state of competition across the Canadian economy
- how competition in Canada has evolved from 2000 to 2020
How we gathered our information
To understand how the state of competition has changed, we used data on Canadian firms to compute several indicators that are often used to measure competition. These indicators, or measures, help us understand how the industries that firms compete within are structured and how firms perform as a result of competition.
Recent studies on the evolution of competition have largely focused on other countries. Studies in Canada have focused mainly on specific industries or on a smaller group of firms. Our project used data from Statistics Canada that tracks all firms that file taxes in Canada. This data gave us a more complete view of how competition in Canada has evolved from 2000 to 2020.
The Bureau conducted this research project with the assistance of Dr. Matthew Osborne of the University of Toronto and his team of research assistants.
What we learned
We found that Canada's competitive intensity has decreased from 2000 to 2020. Competitive intensity describes how hard businesses feel they need to work to gain an advantage over their rivals. The result is that both consumers and businesses have seen fewer of the benefits that greater competition offers.
The indicators we measured give us reason to be concerned about how competition evolved between 2000 and 2020. Here are some of our key findings:
1. Concentration rose in the most concentrated industries
Concentration is a common way to measure competition. It tells us about the relative size of firms in an industry. An industry is highly concentrated when a few large firms earn a large share of revenues compared to smaller firms.
We were especially interested in looking at industries where concentration was already high. We found that the most concentrated industries saw an increase in concentration.
We also found that the number of industries that are highly concentrated has increased.
2. Top firms are less and less challenged
Concentration does not tell us whether the same firms remain the largest in their industry. To measure this, we need to look at rank stability. Rank stability counts how many of the ten largest firms in an industry kept their position over time.
We found that rank stability has risen over time. This means the top firms are less likely to be challenged in their position.
3. Fewer firms have entered industries
An industry is dynamic when new firms can enter it and challenge existing ones. When new firms can enter an industry, it encourages existing firms to:
- charge lower prices
- tailor their offers to their customers' demands
- offer better-quality products
If the existing firms choose not to make these kinds of changes, customers can switch to new providers who offer those greater benefits. This dynamism is at the heart of the competitive process. It ensures that the market rewards firms offering the best value.
Therefore, knowing how many new firms have entered an industry gives us an idea of how strong the threat is for existing ones. Overall, we found that fewer firms have entered. This means these industries have become less dynamic over time.
4. Profits and markups rose
When firms have to compete aggressively against their rivals, they face pressure to keep their prices low. So we don't expect them to achieve substantially higher profits or markups. We looked at how profits and markups have evolved to understand how competition among rivals has changed.
We found that firms' profits and markups have both risen overall. We also found that these increases were generally greater for firms that were already earning higher profits and markups. Rising profits and markups may be another factor showing that competitive intensity in Canada is declining.
We interpret our findings with caution
Our analysis is limited in some areas, so we are interpreting our findings with some caution. Our study of competition indicators used data that is organized by business activity through the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). These NAICS industries do not align with the usual practices of competition law analysis and enforcement. To account for this, we rely on best practices to estimate and interpret our competition indicators.
What we concluded
Our findings highlight why it is important to vigorously protect and promote competition in Canada. They provide important context for our work at the Competition Bureau and help inform broader discussion regarding Canada's productivity and economic performance. They show how essential it is to modernize Canada's competition laws to respond to the realities of today's economy. And they highlight why it is important to implement pro-competitive public policies that do not shelter industries from healthy competition.
This report also contributes to the broader conversation of how to properly measure and improve competitive intensity in Canada. We hope that our analysis of data across the economy can help advance this field of research and the understanding of the factors that affect competitive intensity. We look forward to seeing what other research emerges, especially in the Canadian context, as this field of research continues to develop.
Competition in Canada from 2000 to 2020: An Economy at a Crossroads
Who we are
What is the Competition Act?
The Competition Act is one of the laws the Bureau enforces. Its purpose is to maintain and encourage competition in Canada.
It contains both criminal and civil provisions.
It applies to all economic activity in Canada.
The Competition Bureau is an independent law enforcement agency that protects and promotes competition for the benefit of Canadian consumers and businesses. As a part of this mandate, we administer and enforce Canada's Competition Act and advocate for rules and regulations that promote competition at all levels of government.
We also investigate and take action when we uncover activities such as:
- abuses of market power
- mergers that substantially decrease competition
- price-fixing and bid rigging
- deceptive marketing practices
At the Bureau, we have a track record of advocating for competition and enforcing laws that protect a competitive marketplace. This experience has built our knowledge of competition across sectors and markets of the Canadian economy.
During our enforcement investigations, we often gather very detailed information from different sources. This information allows us to determine how competition works in a narrowly defined sector or market. However, we are limited to information specific to the areas of concern that the investigation is looking into. This is generally limited to specific locations, specific time periods or specific firms and customers. It also often includes confidential information that we can only use for the application of our laws.Footnote 1
Why this project is needed
The information we gather during our investigations does not provide a broader view of how competition has evolved in Canada over time. Our goal with this project is to fill that gap and gain that broader understanding.
We used data covering most economic activity in Canada to produce indicators of competition for the economy as a whole between 2000 and 2020. This research project is new for us at the Bureau. What we learned here is not intended to motivate law enforcement activities under the Competition Act. It is also not intended to focus on any specific sector or industry. What we learned will contribute to the ongoing discussion of the following questions:
- What is the state of competition and productivity in Canada?
- How might our competition laws and policies need to evolve in step with changing circumstances?
Our research provides new, more detailed insights specific to Canada. Some international entities have done similar research. For example, in 2020, the United Kingdom Competition and Markets Authority (UK CMA) studied the state of competition in the UK economy. They updated this report in 2022.Footnote 2 In 2016, the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (NZ MBIE) published a study on how profit elasticity has changed over time across various industries.Footnote 3 With input from some member countries, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) also published guidance on how to measure market competition.Footnote 4
Why our study is different
Academic studies have also explored various measures of competition. However, the vast majority of these have focused on the U.S. economy or other countries.Footnote 5 Few studies have looked specifically at Canada, and those that have, while informative, are limited in some ways. For example, they may measure only a subset of the indicators that we produced for this project, include only publicly traded firms or date back many years.Footnote 6
Our project uses data Statistics Canada granted us access to, which allowed us to include all firms that file taxes in Canada in our analysis. This research, therefore, contributes to the existing literature on competition in Canada. It provides empirical evidence, based on observation, that can contribute to the public discussions on competition policy.
It also benefits the Bureau by improving our knowledge base and increasing our research experience using administrative data. And finally, it provides a foundation for more detailed analyses in the future.
Why competition matters
Competition drives economic growth. It encourages businesses to innovate and become more productive. It benefits consumers because it lowers prices, increases choice and improves quality.Footnote 7
When businesses operate in a healthy competitive market, consumers get to choose the best option available to meet their needs and price point. Fair competition means that businesses must make a strong case to consumers that their products or services are the best choice. This leads to more and better products and services that meet the diverse range of consumer tastes.
Our research methods
How we approached this study
Competition is a complex process where firms' behaviours are rooted in rivalry. Firms react to their environment and their rivals; they will behave differently if they face greater competition. Generally, in a competitive environment, firms can't simply raise their prices to increase their profits. Instead, they must innovate and outperform their rivals.
What does low competitive intensity mean for Canadians?
Low competitive intensity means that businesses are less likely to work to gain a competitive advantage over their rivals. This can lessen incentives to lower prices and innovate.
We used data to compute several indicators that are often used to measure competition. These indicators, or measures, help us understand how the industries that firms compete within are structured and how firms perform as a result of competition. We grouped the indicators into two main categories: structural indicators and performance indicators.
An industry's structure and its dynamism affect how firms make decisions and price their products. We measured the following different structural indicators of competition:
- Concentration measures to what extent a few large firms control an industry. We can measure concentration either by calculating the share of industry revenues going to the largest firms or by measuring how revenue shares are distributed among firms in an industry.
- Rank stability measures how many of the top 10 largest firms in an industry have held that place for the past 3 years. This helps us understand how dynamic industries are and whether firms can easily challenge the largest players in their industry (also called “contestability”).
- Entry and exit rates measure how many firms enter and exit an industry. These are measures of an industry’s dynamism and help indicate the pressure firms face from new competitors.
- Survival rates measure the percentage of firms in an industry that have been active over the last five years. This helps indicate how dynamic an industry is and how likely firms are to face the same competitors year after year.
- Economies of scale measure how productive smaller firms in an industry are versus larger ones. This helps indicate one possible barrier new firms face when deciding whether to enter an industry. They may have a harder time competing against larger, established firms if they are smaller and less efficient.
We can also look at indicators of what the outcome of competition has been on firms' performance. These are normally referred to as “performance indicators.” We estimated the following three:
- Return on sales measure average profits within an industry, and markups measure the difference between the price firms charge for goods and the cost of producing them. Profits and markups both provide a measure of the pressure firms face to lower their prices so they can compete against their rivals.
- Profit elasticity with respect to costs measures how intensely firms that can innovate or find more efficient ways to produce goods or services apply discipline on their rivals. Profit elasticity is an indicator of competitive intensity between firms.
How we analyzed the data
A team led by Dr. Matthew Osborne, Associate Professor of Marketing at the University of Toronto Department of Management, helped us with this project.Footnote 8 They analyzed the data Statistics Canada made available to us in the Research Data Centres, and they analyzed the tabulations provided by Statistics Canada.
We also relied on the technical expertise of Statistics Canada's Economic Analysis Directorate of the Analytical Studies and Modelling Branch in designing and interpreting our analysis.Footnote 9 Statistics Canada also allowed us to access the datasets we requested through the Research Data Centre, and they produced tabulations of data for us upon request.Footnote 10
The Statistics Canada datasets we used track firms and employees over time.Footnote 11 They provide anonymized information about firms, including balance sheets, payroll, employment, etc. They are compiled using information collected from sources that include:
- Statistics Canada
- Canada Revenue Agency
- Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
- Employment and Social Development Canada
The data used for this project organizes firms by business activity through the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). NAICS provides common definitions of industry structure in Canada, the United States and Mexico. Each firm is assigned a NAICS code, a series of numbers based on their main production activity.
What are NAICS codes?
Firms are given a NAICS code based on their main production activity. NAICS has a hierarchical structure. For example, NAICS codes 2121 (coal mining) and 2122 (metal ore mining) belong to NAICS code 212 (mining and quarrying – except oil and gas). Code 212 in turn belongs to NAICS code 21 (mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction). The longer the NAICS code, the narrower the industry definition is.Footnote 12 The narrower the definition is, the more detail it provides about firm activity.
The most detailed NAICS industry level we could get a useful amount of output for was the 4-digit code.Footnote 13 Most of our analysis is done using information at the 4-digit NAICS code level. In some cases, we present findings at the 3-digit NAICS code level as well.
Interpreting the data
Our confidence in our results is strong because we relied on data that is highly representative of the Canadian economy and computed multiple indicators of competition. We also looked at the trends of all these indicators across industries and over many years.
This approach ensured we didn't misinterpret more minor changes we might see in the data. The trends we observed can inform us about general changes to competitive intensity from 2000 to 2020 across the economy.Footnote 14 Rather than focusing on one indicator or aspect of competition, looking at multiple indicators together helps us better identify how competition has changed overall. Our approach is in line with OECD guidance and international best practice.Footnote 15
Each indicator tells us something specific about competition across industries. But it doesn't give us the full picture. For example, concentration tells us whether a few firms have captured a larger share of production. But it doesn't tell us how easy it is for new firms to enter an industry. It also doesn't reveal whether firms with larger revenue shares might face competition regardless of their size. To get a fuller picture, we rely on multiple indicators of competition.
Factors we considered
This is a research project, not an investigation. We are not identifying behaviours that we would review under the Competition Act. The goal of this research is to generally inform us about the state of competition in Canada and how it has changed over time.
Below we outline factors we kept in mind when we interpreted our findings. These factors aim to account for the nature of the data we use.Footnote 16 They highlight why it is more useful to look at trends across different indicators for the economy as a whole, and not to focus on individual industries. These factors do not affect broader trends as much as more sensitive, highly detailed, granular observations of one industry or year.
Industries are not markets
Sometimes, during our investigations, we examine market power or measure changes in competition. We will generally do so based on antitrust markets. An antitrust market is the group of products or services that buyers see as close substitutes within an area where buyers are willing or able to travel to switch between products or services.Footnote 17
The data we use does not group firms into antitrust markets. For this type of project, the best information we have on the types of goods and services a firm produces are NAICS classifications. Compared to an antitrust market, a NAICS industry may be either defined more narrowly or broadly. In these cases, measures of competitive intensity may not accurately reflect the competitive dynamics they are meant to measure for specific industries.Footnote 18 This means the findings of this project alone cannot meet our enforcement standards. But they are still informative when looking at overall trends in the Canadian economy.Footnote 19
NAICS codes change over time and firms may shift between NAICS codes
As the economy changes, the activity captured by a NAICS code may need to adjust. Firms may therefore have a different NAICS code from one year to the next as NAICS categories are redefined, even if their own activities have not changed.
Also, while a firm may have activities ranging across multiple NAICS industries, it will only be assigned one code. So a firm may be over-represented in one industry and absent in another where it competes with other firms. Further, if one of its activities becomes more important in one year, that firm may change its NAICS code in that year.
The changes we see in our competition indicators may then reflect changes in NAICS codes or the movement of firms between NAICS codes. They may not reflect changes in the competitive structure of an industry. We focused on general trends rather than on specific industries. In this way, we are able to ensure we do not misrepresent changes in particular industries.
Tax data does not always reflect economic theory
Many of the indicators we calculate are based on economic theory that may not align directly with tax data. This is a common concern. Much of the literature we used in our work accounts for these differences and explores ways to use administrative or accounting data. We are mindful of the limitations and assumptions of each model and indicator.
This data reflects only firms filing taxes in Canada
The data we use compiles only information on firms that operate and file taxes in Canada. It does not capture the difference between products and services bought within Canada and those that are exported. It does not account for products and services bought by Canadians from foreign firms (imports) either. This can affect our findings, as we may not capture industry competition completely because we don't capture the effects of trade. For example, the UK CMA found that concentration may be under- or over-estimated if it doesn't account for imports and exports.Footnote 20
Trade may affect competition in different industries in different ways. We focus on trends across the entire economy to avoid accounting for effects that are limited only to a specific industry.
Some estimates were withheld to keep the information confidential
Statistics Canada has conditions in place to avoid revealing information that could identify specific firms. So, at times, some information was not provided to us or we could not withdraw some output from the Research Data Centre. In certain instances, we aggregated output in such a way to ensure that it remains anonymized.
These precautions may affect our findings, especially since information is most likely to be withheld for industries:
- that are most concentrated
- that have the fewest firms
- where one firm is dominantFootnote 21
Our focus on trends across industries should reduce the impact of withheld information on our conclusions.
Structural indicators of competition
Industry structure describes elements such as:
- How many firms there are in an industry
- what barriers to entry new firms face
- how many firms enter and exit
Elements of an industry's structure influence how firms make decisions and price their products. For example, the number and size of competitors affect the pressure on a firm's prices and its drive to innovate.
Competitive interaction also then changes the industry structure. For example, aggressive competitors may push inefficient firms out of the industry. On the other hand, if there is only a small threat of entry from new firms, existing firms may be able to increase their prices or offer fewer choices to their customers.
Industry structure alone may not provide a complete picture of the environment firms operate within. But it does provide important information on the competitive structure and the incentives that drive firms to compete.
For this project, we measured concentration using the share of revenues that the largest firms earn.Footnote 22
High concentration means that a few firms earn a greater share of the revenues in their industry. Theory tells us that if a market is more concentrated, it is easier for firms to increase their prices and make profits above what we would expect to see in a competitive setting. They can make these larger profits because they face fewer competitors. If there is more concentration, and fewer firms, it is also more likely that some firms can coordinate and increase prices.Footnote 23
We calculated two different measures of concentration:
- a concentration ratio (CR)
- the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI)
Concentration Ratio (CR)
The concentration ratio tells us what percentage of all revenue for an industry goes to the largest firms. Specifically, we compute this for the 10 largest firms (CR10).Footnote 24
The CR10 measure produces a value between 0% and 100%. For example, if the 10 largest firms in an industry each account for 5% of industry revenues, CR10 will be 50%. The larger the share of revenue for these largest firms, the higher the ratio and the more concentrated the industry. However, CR10 does not tell us how shares of revenues are distributed among either the top 10 firms or the rest of the industry.
Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI)
Unlike CR10, HHI helps us understand how shares of revenue in the industry are distributed beyond the largest firms. HHI is the sum of the squared share of industry revenue of each firm in an industry. HHI is measured on a scale between 0 and 10,000.
The HHI increases as fewer, larger firms earn a larger share of the industry revenue. It also increases as revenues are distributed in an industry more unevenly. For example, an industry would have an HHI of 10,000 when it has only one firm. If an industry has more small firms with equal shares of revenue, it will have an HHI closer to 0.
How does HHI work?
Let's consider two industries of 10 firms where CR10 is 100%. Here, we can consider two extreme cases of how firm revenue shares are distributed:
- Revenue shares within the industry are evenly distributed when each firm has a share of 10%. Here, the HHI is 1,000.
- Revenue shares within the industry are unevenly distributed where a single firm has a share of 90% and the remaining 10% is split evenly between the remaining 9 firms. Here, the HHI is 8,111.
An industry where the biggest firms have similar revenue shares may have different dynamics than one with one large player and a fringe of smaller players. By looking at the HHI, we can account for how revenue shares are distributed within an industry. CR10 alone does not capture this aspect of concentration.
Interpreting concentration measures
It is difficult to set a threshold that definitively identifies a highly concentrated industry. When we investigate specific mergers or anticompetitive acts, we rely on market share information. It helps tell us whether mergers or some firm behaviours in a market are more or less likely to raise concerns.Footnote 25 We do not use specific HHI thresholds for enforcement. However, the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission's Horizontal Merger Guidelines identify thresholds past which mergers are more likely to enhance market power.Footnote 26
- unconcentrated markets: HHI below 1,500
- moderately concentrated markets: HHI between 1,500 and 2,500
- highly concentrated markets: HHI above 2,500Footnote 27
Concentration rose in the most concentrated industries
We find that concentration rose in the most concentrated industries. We are especially interested in looking at how concentration has evolved in industries that are highly concentrated. These are the ones that we would most likely scrutinize in the context of our work to enforce or advocate for fair competition.
Ranking industries by their average concentration over all years, we can compare how concentration has evolved in both more concentrated industries and less concentrated ones. See Figure 1 below to learn what we found.
Concentration for the top 10% and 25% most concentrated industries rose overall between 2005 and 2018.
- HHI in the top 10% most concentrated industries rose by 8.6%: It went from 2,818 in 2005 to 3,060 in 2018. We observe variation within that time period.
- HHI in the top 25% most concentrated industries rose by 10.7%: It went from 1,942 in 2005 to 2,149 in 2018.
Description of Figure 1
Figure 1: Average annual HHI from 2005 to 2018 for industries that are grouped by average HHI Year Top 10% Top 25% Mid 50-75% Mid 25-50% Bottom 25% Bottom 10% 2005 2818.476 1941.810 848.493 340.839 137.071 56.470 2006 2701.440 1983.774 757.849 304.922 76.733 44.221 2007 2813.578 2035.749 768.752 229.123 52.077 20.769 2008 3145.707 2194.617 752.872 254.597 58.458 21.306 2009 3794.201 2355.358 728.143 302.075 57.892 20.014 2010 3537.148 2263.147 753.463 299.485 47.046 15.907 2011 3082.633 2190.775 700.738 252.589 48.402 18.459 2012 3003.323 2173.087 664.871 228.389 42.890 17.591 2013 3058.483 2244.975 637.092 230.933 45.629 15.726 2014 3351.492 2267.728 657.287 219.219 42.930 3351.492 2015 3364.499 2231.552 641.694 217.085 42.889 15.133 2016 3499.932 2201.032 713.576 220.587 48.575 15.149 2017 3134.896 2225.665 781.866 236.095 50.116 13.336 2018 3060.004 2148.750 741.124 303.211 46.382 15.248
We also found that the number of industries with an HHI greater than 2,500 (highly concentrated) rose from 19 in 2005 to 27 in 2018. Out of a little over 300 industries, this rate was approximately one industry every two years. This is based on the number of industries for which no information was withheld to protect confidentiality. Where data was withheld to protect firm confidentiality, we can safely assume that those industries are more concentrated. However, withheld data does not affect the observed upward trend.Footnote 28
We find similar trends when examining CR10. The number of industries with a CR10 over 80% has also risen, to a lesser degree, from 47 in 2005 to 50 in 2018. These are industries where the top 10 largest firms earn 80% or more of all industry revenues.
We do note that average concentration fell in industries with medium or low concentration. In Appendix A you can find more analysis to support the findings described above.
Concentration measures alone do not reflect possible changes in which firms make up the top 10 in an industry. We use rank stability to better understand how much change there is in the group of largest firms. This helps us understand how dynamic industries are and whether firms can easily challenge the largest players in their industry (also called “contestability”).
We measure rank stability as the number of firms among the top 10 largest by revenue in an industry that were also in the top 10 for the three prior years. For example, a rank stability of 10 implies that the top 10 firms have remained the same, while a rank stability of 1 means only one firm has remained in the top 10 and the other nine are new to the top 10.
When rank stability is higher, it may tell us that there is less competition. This is because it shows that existing competitors or new firms entering an industry are less likely to push the top firms out of their positions. When rank stability is lower, it tells us that firms are more likely to successfully compete for a larger share of revenues.
Rank stability has risen overall
From 2003 to 2020, rank stability increased across all industries. Figure 2 below presents average rank stability for all industries based on revenue. This increase affects almost all industries. Less than 1% of industries saw their rank stability fall. These account for less than 0.5% of all industry revenues.
Description of Figure 2
Figure 2: Average rank stability from 2003 to 2020 for all industries Year Average Rank Stability (number of firms) Lower Rank Stability (number of firms) Upper Rank Stability (number of firms) 2003 4.283 4.060 4.486 2004 4.475 4.199 4.737 2005 4.429 4.139 4.705 2006 4.340 4.056 4.624 2007 4.809 4.551 5.059 2008 5.224 4.995 5.469 2009 5.040 4.785 5.292 2010 5.202 4.968 5.436 2011 5.252 4.998 5.492 2012 5.444 5.222 5.686 2013 5.545 5.301 5.809 2014 5.510 5.241 5.753 2015 5.703 5.514 5.900 2016 5.540 5.342 5.737 2017 5.383 5.145 5.599 2018 5.432 5.151 5.680 2019 5.508 5.260 5.752 2020 5.778 5.548 6.026
Note: The shaded red area indicates a 95% confidence band. This means that if we were to re-sample the population in the same way, we would expect data to fall within the range of values 95% of the time.
The general overall rise in rank stability across the economy could mean that competitive intensity has gone down. Larger firms are more entrenched in their positions. We describe further analysis of our findings on rank stability in Appendix B.
Entry, exit, survival and industry dynamism
Entry and exit rates
The threat that new competitors will enter an industry encourages firms to compete more actively. This is true even when there might be fewer firms in the industry. Entry and exit rates help us understand how dynamic an industry is. An industry is dynamic when new firms can enter it and challenge existing ones.
When new firms can enter an industry, it encourages existing firms to:
- charge lower prices
- tailor their offers to their customers' demands
- offer better-quality products
If the existing firms choose not to make these kinds of changes, customers can switch to new providers who offer those greater benefits. This dynamism is at the heart of the competitive process. It ensures that firms offering the best value are more successful.
In a competitive and dynamic economy, we also expect to see inefficient firms exiting. They would exit because they can no longer continue to compete against more efficient rivals. However, we note that if smaller, newer firms are mainly the ones that are exiting industries, higher entry or exit may not mean greater competition.
We calculated entry rates from 2001 to 2020 as the number of opening firms in a given year as a percentage of active firms in that year. The exit rate is the number of closing firms in a given year as a percentage of active firms in that year.Footnote 29
Along with entry and exit rates, we calculated the survival rates of firms in industries from 2005 to 2020. This information is another way we can learn how dynamic an industry is.
The survival rate is the percentage of firms that have been active for at least five years as a percentage of the average number of firms operating in those years.
High survival may show that an industry is not very dynamic. In an industry where few firms enter and exit, the survival rate will be high. With a higher survival rate, firms may be better able to understand the behaviour of their competitors. This in turn may relax the rivalry among them. Their rivalry is not as intense because they can learn to predict how their competitors will react and base their strategies on this.
On the other hand, if many firms enter an industry and new firms are the ones exiting most often, the survival rate may be low. Yet this would not necessarily indicate greater competition.
Entry and exit rates have declined overall
It is difficult to identify the competitive rate of entry, exit or survival for each industry. It will vary by industry, based on several factors. These include:
- the types of products or services offered
- the nature of firms' inputs and whether they are costly or hard to come by
- the regulations that apply
- the competition that already exists
- the geographic make-up of where the firm operates
So instead, we focus on the trends in entry, exit and survival rates. They provide more information to help us understand whether the Canadian economy as a whole has become more or less dynamic.
We find that the average entry and exit rates have gone down across the economy between 2001 and 2020 (see Figure 3 below). Entry rates have gone down by 24% (from 11.8% to 9.0%); exit rates, by 8% (from 13.4% to 12.3%).
The decline in entry and exit rates may appear small, but we saw it across industries.Footnote 30 It tells us Canadian industries across the economy have become less dynamic from 2001 to 2020.
Description of Figure 3
Figure 3: Average entry and exit rates from 2001 to 2020 for all industries Year Entry (Proportional to Active Firms) Exit (Proportional to Active Firms) 2001 0.118 0.134 2002 0.106 0.124 2003 0.105 0.112 2004 0.117 0.103 2005 0.115 0.098 2006 0.113 0.102 2007 0.094 0.102 2008 0.869 0.103 2009 0.094 0.120 2010 0.091 0.111 2011 0.091 0.104 2012 0.101 0.103 2013 0.097 0.105 2014 0.096 0.105 2015 0.095 0.104 2016 0.092 0.115 2017 0.097 0.103 2018 0.098 0.105 2019 0.101 0.105 2020 0.090 0.123
Note: Average of industry rates of entry and exit weighted by industry revenue
Survival rates have risen slightly overall
Survival rates are consistent with what we learned about entry and exit rates: they rose across all industry groups, from an average of 68.4% in 2005 to 70.4% in 2020 (see Figure 4 below). This is a small increase (2%), but it covers a wide range of industries.Footnote 31 When we view these rates in combination with falling entry and exit rates, we again see that industries have become less dynamic.
Description of Figure 4
Figure 4: Average survival rate from 2005 to 2020 for all industries Year Average Survival Rate (Proportional to Active Firms) Lower Survival Rate (Proportional to Active Firms) Upper Survival Rate (Proportional to Active Firms) 2005 0.684 0.600 0.773 2006 0.692 0.602 0.778 2007 0.698 0.607 0.784 2008 0.702 0.615 0.788 2009 0.684 0.605 0.772 2010 0.694 0.613 0.783 2011 0.704 0.634 0.795 2012 0.700 0.629 0.788 2013 0.702 0.632 0.793 2014 0.707 0.637 0.798 2015 0.708 0.635 0.798 2016 0.703 0.638 0.800 2017 0.705 0.638 0.801 2018 0.706 0.638 0.802 2019 0.707 0.634 0.801 2020 0.704 0.630 0.797
Note: Average of industry survival rate weighted by industry revenue. The shaded red area indicates +/- 1 standard deviation from the mean. This represents the range where approximately 68% of the industry level data lies within any given year.
The declines in entry and exit rates and the increase in survival rates point to a decrease in the overall dynamism of the economy. We describe further analysis of our findings on entry, exit and survival rates in Appendix C.
Barriers to entry: Economies of scale
As noted above, if firms feel threatened by new competitors, they are encouraged to compete more actively. At the Bureau, we evaluate barriers to entry and how they affect competition when we review mergers or allegations of monopolistic practices.
Along with market shares and concentration, barriers to entry are an important aspect of industry structure and competition. Barriers to entry can take many forms, including:
- higher unrecoverable costs of entry or expansion
- regulationsFootnote 32
- economies of scaleFootnote 33
Using data, we can estimate economies of scale as barriers to entry. Economies of scale occur when the average cost of producing each unit of a product or service goes down as a firm produces more. With high economies of scale, a firm can likely only enter an industry with success if it does so on a large enough scale to compete profitably against large existing firms whose costs are lower. This means that smaller competitors may be discouraged from entering industries with high economies of scale.
We used the cost disadvantage ratio (CDR) to measure economies of scale
We estimate the cost disadvantage ratio (CDR) as a measure of economies of scale. The CDR compares the value added per worker of smaller firms to the value added per worker of larger firms within an industry.Footnote 34
As the CDR increases above 1 (there is no upper limit), it shows that estimated economies of scale are higher. Specifically, the value added per worker for larger firms is higher than it is for smaller firms. If the CDR is between 0 and 1, it indicates diseconomies of scale. In other words, small firms are more efficient than larger firms. If the CDR equals 1, it indicates no economies of scale. In this case, small firms are as efficient as larger ones.
We expect to find economies of scale in most industries,Footnote 35 but we cannot determine the level of CDR that tells us whether barriers to entry will hinder competition. First, the products or services firms produce within industries may vary widely. Second, the model may not account for any differences in the quality of labour.Footnote 36 Finally, there are other barriers to entry, unique to each industry, also at play. As a result, it is more informative to examine trends in CDR rather than compare CDR levels across different industries to understand how this potential barrier to entry has changed.
Economies of scale declined overall
We find that economies of scale have gone down on average across all industries from 2001 to 2018. This tells us that larger firms are becoming less efficient compared to smaller ones. In Figure 5 we group average CDR for industries by high to low economies of scale. We see that overall CDR has decreased, particularly in industries where it is highest on average.Footnote 37
Description of Figure 5
Figure 5: Average annual CDR from 2001 to 2018 for industries that are grouped by high to low economies of scale Year Top 10% Top 25% Mid 50-75% Mid 25-50% Bottom 25% Bottom 10% 2001 9.916 6.017 2.296 1.889 1.472 1.276 2002 10.174 5.689 2.371 1.893 1.309 1.137 2003 12.307 6.857 2.384 1.825 1.300 1.075 2004 8.489 5.781 2.217 1.702 1.283 1.164 2005 7.524 4.782 2.622 1.658 1.273 1.171 2006 6.826 5.166 2.384 1.641 1.291 1.132 2007 11.006 6.322 2.388 1.729 1.344 1.294 2008 5.080 4.075 2.265 1.693 1.328 1.118 2009 8.278 5.161 2.037 1.749 1.248 1.066 2010 4.326 3.579 2.190 1.741 1.219 1.016 2011 6.968 4.648 2.206 2.114 1.355 1.053 2012 5.157 4.256 2.124 1.735 1.467 1.089 2013 5.015 3.977 2.033 1.715 1.312 1.100 2014 3.215 3.080 2.822 1.764 1.296 1.100 2015 3.610 3.428 2.158 1.742 1.266 1.096 2016 4.310 3.676 2.072 1.672 1.253 1.111 2017 5.054 4.148 2.043 1.848 1.376 1.077 2018 3.705 3.768 2.058 1.744 1.303 1.056
We often expect larger firms to be more efficient than smaller ones due to economies of scale. If the technology of production allows larger firms to operate at a lower average cost, then it may be more efficient to have fewer firms with a larger scale of production in an industry. This means some concentration in industries with high economies of scale may not reflect low competition.
To see whether this was true, we looked at whether we were seeing higher concentration in industries with higher economies of scale. We found no clear correlation between industries with high CDR and those with high concentration. In other words, industries with high economies of scale were not more likely to have high concentration. This suggests that the increases in concentration we observed were not due to larger firms becoming more efficient.
In addition, we expect falling economies of scale to mean declining barriers to entry. As economies of scale decrease, new firms do not need to reach as large a size in order to compete against larger existing firms. The cost advantage of larger firms is smaller where economies of scale are smaller. However, we did not note rising entry rates during the same period (as described above). As a result, we cannot connect the falling economies of scale we observed with rising entry rates as we might expect.
By examining CDR, we see that economies of scale have gone down slightly, but entry rates have not gone up at the same time. See Appendix D for further analysis of our findings on barriers to entry.
You have read about how we measured structural indicators like concentration, barriers to entry and industry dynamics. All of these indicators help us understand the environment firms operate within. They can shine a light on overall trends and changes in competition since industry structure will affect firms' choices.
We can learn more about how competition has changed by looking at performance indicators: markups, profits and profit elasticity with respect to costs. These indicators measure the direct outcome of firms' actions.
Higher profits and markups can both be indicators of a less competitive economy. In a competitive industry, firms face pressure to keep their prices low. This in turn means we would not expect firms to achieve substantially higher profits or markups. Likewise, we can look at how cost increases are passed through to consumers, which is reflected in profit elasticity. This helps us understand how much pressure firms face to drive down prices and innovate.
Markups are defined as the difference between the price a firm charges for a product and its marginal cost. Marginal cost describes the cost of producing one additional unit. A firm with market power can usually charge a price much higher than its marginal cost. In this way, it will enjoy a high markup.Footnote 38 When firms face strong competition from rivals, they will usually feel pressure to reduce their price to be closer to their costs. In theory, in a perfectly competitive market, markups are zero. Competition in this market pushes prices down to marginal cost.
Estimating markups is not straightforward
One of the challenges with measuring markups directly is that we do not observe the firm's marginal cost. Marginal costs are not observed and so are not reported in accounting or tax data. Economic literature provides several approaches to estimate markups with accounting data or tax data. We follow two common approaches in this project.Footnote 39 Both methods will infer markups by estimating firms' production functions, essentially looking at how firms use labour and capital to produce goods while keeping their costs to a minimum. The methods differ in how they use the data available to account for the productivity of firms. See Appendix E for details on our methodology.Footnote 40
Markups are a good indicator of market power. Yet, they may not precisely indicate competition on their own. Firms may be able to achieve higher markups, even when they compete intensely, if they make changes such as:
- developing new and innovative products
- differentiating their product in some way
- providing consumers with a variety of products
- competing on factors beyond price
- lowering their costs and operating more efficientlyFootnote 41
These are all examples of potentially competitive actions. An increase in markups could also reflect an increase in fixed costs, such as more investment in research and development. Firms may increase prices to recoup these fixed costs, but their marginal costs would remain the same, so we would see higher markups. It is still useful to look at trends in markups over time. This is because changes in markups can signal changing competitive dynamics within industries.
It is also most helpful to look at trends in markups rather than comparing levels between industries. This is because markups may be different across industries based on industry-specific factors. For example, are they research-intensive or technology-intensive sectors? Or are they industries with high fixed cost? Given the methods we use to estimate markups, it may be most helpful to look at trends.Footnote 42
Markups have risen overall and more so in higher markup industries
We observe a small overall increase of 6.7% in the average markup across all industries between 2002 and 2018. However, this increase is steeper in industries with the highest estimated markups, where it rises by 12.5%. These increases appear in Figure 6 below. Here, we show how markups have evolved for groups of industries with higher and lower average markups.
Description of Figure 6
Figure 6: Average annual markup from 2002 to 2018 for industries that are grouped by average markup Year Top 10% Top 25% Mid 50-75% Mid 25-50% Bottom 25% Bottom 10% 2001 0 0 0 0 0 0 2002 4.043 2.969 1.787 1.553 0.995 0.636 2003 4.068 2.986 1.804 1.552 0.981 0.609 2004 4.267 2.986 1.853 1.579 0.981 0.637 2005 4.212 2.992 1.806 1.541 0.985 0.626 2006 4.184 3.053 1.804 1.562 0.992 0.647 2007 4.647 3.337 1.775 1.527 0.957 0.603 2008 4.654 3.234 1.826 1.544 0.954 0.578 2009 4.849 3.392 1.790 1.502 0.970 0.597 2010 4.984 3.405 1.830 1.531 0.972 0.594 2011 5.235 3.493 1.822 1.519 0.961 0.599 2012 4.450 3.211 1.869 1.547 1.025 0.618 2013 4.854 3.325 1.847 1.556 1.056 0.713 2014 4.788 3.346 1.825 1.535 1.039 0.706 2015 4.791 3.264 1.845 1.541 1.034 0.661 2016 4.850 3.399 1.853 1.627 1.021 0.680 2017 4.472 3.209 1.864 1.597 1.038 0.660 2018 4.550 3.198 1.923 1.590 1.038 0.67
To better illustrate this rising trend across industries, we set the starting point of each group tracked above to 100. This allows us to track how markups have changed for industries with high and low markups on average (Figure 7 below).
Description of Figure 7
Figure 7: Indexed trend in average markup from 2002 to 2018 for industries that are grouped by average markup Year Top 10% Top 25% Mid 50-75% Mid 25-50% Bottom 25% Bottom 10% 2001 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 2002 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 2003 100.624% 102.067% 100.940% 99.934% 98.580% 95.729% 2004 105.550% 102.651% 103.642% 101.632% 98.529% 100.165% 2005 104.186% 102.858% 101.063% 99.426% 98.965% 98.516% 2006 103.495% 104.947% 100.906% 100.577% 99.692% 101.688% 2007 114.939% 114.713% 99.327% 98.311% 96.096% 94.816% 2008 115.117% 111.198% 102.144% 99.426% 95.882% 90.924% 2009 119.946% 116.627% 100.160% 96.717% 97.494% 93.853% 2010 123.271% 117.075% 102.387% 98.549% 97.689% 93.364% 2011 129.495% 120.072% 101.949% 97.817% 96.567% 94.135% 2012 110.079% 110.398% 104.565% 99.594% 102.999% 97.250% 2013 120.059% 114.322% 103.344% 100.185% 106.085% 112.194% 2014 118.433% 115.119% 102.073% 98.816% 104.345% 110.978% 2015 118.516% 112.198% 103.234% 99.2151% 103.834% 103.937% 2016 119.959% 116.847% 103.641% 104.720% 102.601% 106.889% 2017 110.626% 110.326% 104.258% 102.792% 104.360% 103.816% 2018 112.543% 109.933% 107.554% 102.342% 104.240% 105.374%
While we observe a divergence in markups between the top and bottom industries during our time period, the trend across all groups shows increased markups overall.
As noted above, several different factors could put pressure on markups to increase. Nonetheless, this generalized increase in markups could indicate a decline in the intensity of competition firms face. It is also consistent with trends observed in our measure of profits, which gives us added confidence in the trends we observed.Footnote 43
When firms have to compete aggressively against their rivals, they face pressure to keep their prices low. So we don't expect them to earn substantially higher profits.
We measured profits using return on sales (ROS). ROS is defined as operating profitsFootnote 44 divided by revenue. Operating profits are earnings from operations before interest and taxes (EBIT). For a detailed description of how we calculated EBIT using our dataset, see Appendix F.
ROS does not provide a standard for identifying a level of profits that is competitive or above what a firm would make under optimal competition. Competitive ROS will be different for each industry since it will depend on factors like fixed costs, how firms use labour and capital and in what proportion, and so on. And just as we described above for markups, in a competitive setting, a firm may still earn high profits in some conditions. For example, if it innovates or provides a variety of products, it may be able to earn higher profits. As such, our findings are more informative if we examine trends in ROS over time. Then we can understand how competitive pressure on profits may have changed over time.
Profits have risen overall and more so in higher-profit industries
We found that ROS has increased for most industries and on average overall. We also saw that the industries with the highest profits have seen a slightly faster increase compared to the overall average (see Figure 8 below). The top 10% of industries with highest ROS had an increase in ROS from 29.2% in 2000 to 37.7% in 2020 (an increase of 8.5%). Overall, average ROS increased from 15.7% in 2000 to 19.5% in 2020 (an increase of 3.8%).
Description of Figure 8
Figure 8: Average annual ROS from 2000 to 2020 for industries that are grouped by average ROS (ratio - operating profits / revenue) Year Top 10% Top 25% Mid 50-75% Mid 25-50% Bottom 25% Bottom 10% 2000 0.292 0.238 0.161 0.128 0.099 0.086 2001 0.306 0.247 0.168 0.130 0.098 0.081 2002 0.319 0.252 0.167 0.128 0.095 0.077 2003 0.301 0.244 0.165 0.128 0.092 0.075 2004 0.284 0.229 0.161 0.125 0.090 0.074 2005 0.291 0.234 0.157 0.125 0.090 0.075 2006 0.280 0.233 0.159 0.128 0.092 0.076 2007 0.292 0.240 0.164 0.1303 0.0931 0.0752 2008 0.313 0.252 0.172 0.132 0.096 0.078 2009 0.320 0.262 0.173 0.136 0.094 0.079 2010 0.332 0.268 0.175 0.137 0.098 0.080 2011 0.379 0.285 0.173 0.136 0.101 0.085 2012 0.352 0.277 0.175 0.136 0.099 0.080 2013 0.359 0.283 0.180 0.141 0.102 0.083 2014 0.388 0.293 0.183 0.142 0.104 0.086 2015 0.375 0.292 0.186 0.146 0.105 0.086 2016 0.428 0.314 0.185 0.150 0.105 0.088 2017 0.366 0.292 0.186 0.148 0.111 0.092 2018 0.399 0.304 0.184 0.149 0.109 0.089 2019 0.417 0.314 0.184 0.150 0.110 0.090 2020 0.377 0.305 0.193 0.160 0.122 0.102
Similar to markups, other factors could be putting upward pressure on ROS. However, the increase in ROS across industries could mean that firms face declining competitive pressure to lower prices or keep them low, which can improve profitability.
Profit elasticity with respect to costs
We can also think of competition as a continuous, ongoing process. Firms continue to challenge each other and to look for ways to outcompete their rivals by finding more efficient ways to produce goods and services.
We assume that, in a competitive environment, firms are pushed to innovate and find new ways to produce at a lower cost. As a result, one or a few firms may earn higher profits for a time while their competitors catch up.
An input to production is anything that goes into producing goods and services. It includes materials, labour and equipment. If input costs increase in an industry, and firms do not face any pressure from competitors, they will simply pass this on to customers by charging a higher price. However, when some firms have a larger profit margin because they are more efficient, they can continue to put pressure on their rivals by not raising their price, since they absorb the cost increase in their profit margin. This means those more efficient firms will limit how much of the cost increase can be passed on to customers. As a result, profits for firms in this industry will go down more than they would in industries where firms face less pressure to compete and keep prices low.
Profit elasticity with respect to costs, also called the Boone indicator, measures the size of a change in profit that occurs when a firm's marginal cost increases.Footnote 45 Since marginal costs can't be observed directly, we inferred them by looking at average variable cost.Footnote 46
This indicator can better measure competition in industries where there are one or a few larger firms, but they are large because they are more efficient. It fills a gap left by our measures of concentration and other measures that only look at the outcome of competition, like markups.
The Boone indicator takes a value between negative infinity (-âˆž) and one (1). In more competitive industries, we expect the Boone indicator to approach negative infinity. This is because an increase in cost will mean a larger decrease in profits. As we note above, this happens because more efficient competitors can impose discipline on others within an industry. As it increases towards 1, the Boone indicator shows weaker competitive intensity.
Once again, we focused on the trends we observed in profit elasticity rather than comparing elasticity between industries. The level of the Boone indicator was affected by several factors according to the industry and the data we used. So, we got more helpful information if we looked at the change across industries.
Profit elasticity has risen overall
We found an increase in the Boone indicator on average across all industries. This increase is largest for the top 10% of industries with the highest average Boone indicator. Industries where the Boone indicator is lowest saw a small decline, indicating a rise in competitive intensity. However, the overall trend is on the rise, as you can see in Figure 9. Here we plot the trends in the Boone indicator from 2001 to 2018 for industries grouped from highest to lowest on average.
Description of Figure 9
Figure 9: Average annual Boone indicator from 2001 to 2018 for industries that are grouped by average Boone indicator Year Top 10% Top 25% Mid 50-75% Mid 25-50% Bottom 25% Bottom 10% 2001 -0.286 -0.576 -0.937 -1.412 -1.853 -2.163 2002 -0.193 -0.550 -0.891 -1.315 -1.795 -1.920 2003 -0.150 -0.510 -0.897 -1.327 -1.893 -2.131 2004 -0.139 -0.561 -0.877 -1.190 -1.859 -2.249 2005 -0.031 -0.454 -0.891 -1.190 -1.861 -2.274 2006 -0.059 -0.448 -0.871 -1.211 -1.905 -2.379 2007 -0.071 -0.426 -0.873 -1.075 -1.901 -2.294 2008 -0.155 -0.372 -0.881 -1.175 -1.943 -2.369 2009 -0.094 -0.344 -0.896 -1.172 -1.878 -2.132 2010 -0.065 -0.302 -0.870 -1.236 -1.975 -2.304 2011 0.016 -0.303 -0.838 -1.256 -1.844 -2.121 2012 -0.014 -0.338 -0.838 -1.218 -1.778 -2.025 2013 0.013 -0.306 -0.867 -1.171 -1.722 -1.989 2014 0.052 -0.280 -0.845 -1.152 -1.838 -2.166 2015 0.102 -0.240 -0.818 -1.173 -1.833 -2.001 2016 0.117 -0.253 -0.850 -1.119 -1.850 -1.969 2017 0.060 -0.260 -0.821 -1.143 -1.955 -2.220 2018 0.083 -0.266 -0.795 -1.138 -2.055 -2.282
The overall increase in the Boone indicator across industries could indicate that competitive intensity is falling within industries. When costs rise, firms are then less likely to face pressure to maintain low prices. Instead, they can pass on the cost increase to their customers. This is consistent with the overall increase in markups and profits that we also observed over this time period and points to a decline in competitive intensity overall. See Appendix G for more details on our analysis and findings.
We examined multiple commonly used indicators of competition. Each tells us something specific about competition. It either tells us about the environment in which firms compete, or about the outcome of the competitive process on firm performance.
As described in the sections above, we need to be cautious when we interpret these indicators. Yet, by looking at multiple indicators together, we find a consistent and clear decline in competitive intensity in Canada between 2000 and 2020. To summarize our key conclusions:
- Concentration has increased in the most concentrated industries, and a greater number of industries are becoming highly concentrated.
- Rank stability has gone up across industries. This means the largest firms in industries face less of a challenge from smaller firms.
- Entry and exit rates have gone down across industries, while the firm survival rate has gone up. This indicates that industries are becoming less dynamic and existing firms face less pressure from potential new ones.
- Economies of scale have gone down slightly, but entry rates have not gone up with them.
- Profits and markups are increasing overall, and this is happening faster in industries where profits and markups are already high.
- Profit elasticity is increasing, which indicates that the competitive process is becoming less dynamic.
These findings help us measure how competitive intensity has evolved in Canada. This is important information that we can use to understand how competition policy in Canada has performed. Our findings also provide important context for our work at the Bureau to enforce the Competition Act and advocate for regulations that reduce barriers to competition in the Canadian economy. More generally, this work highlights why it is important to modernize Canada's competition infrastructure and recentre the role of competition in our economy.
The Bureau will continue to explore ways that we can build on and refine our findings by expanding on the knowledge and expertise we have gathered from this research.
Appendix A: Concentration
A concentrated market is one where a few firms account for a large share of total revenues. If a market is more concentrated, it may be easier for a firm to increase its price above a level we would expect to see in a competitive market. The likelihood that some firms may be able to increase prices by coordinating their actions also increases as the level of concentration in a market rises and as the number of firms declines.Footnote 1
Changes in concentration measures can inform us about changes in market structure. While we do not define a specific level of concentration that may trigger enforcement action, we generally find that a merger is less likely to reduce competition substantially when market shares or concentration measures are low.Footnote 2
We calculated three different measures of concentration. The CR3 and the CR10 concentration ratios and the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI).
Methodology: Concentration Ratios
The concentration ratio (CR) is defined as the sum of the market shares of the top N firms in an industry. In a given industry, the CR10 measures the share of the top 10 firms whereas the CR3 measures the share of the top 3. A higher concentration ratio implies that the largest firms account for a larger share of the industry. CR10 and CR3 can range from close to 0% in the case of many tiny firms, to 100% in the case where the largest 10 (or 3) firms account for all industry revenue.
Concentration ratios were provided to us in custom tabulations by Statistics Canada using the National Accounts Longitudinal Microdata File (NALMF), T1 Financial Declaration File (T1FD), and T1 Business Declaration File (T1BD) datasetsFootnote 3 from 2005 to 2018. They are calculated for each 4-digit NAICS industry and aggregated as revenue-weighted averages of component 4-digit NAICS codes for higher-level NAICS industries (2- and 3-digit NAICS industries). The NALMF datasets contain all incorporated businesses, while the T1FD and T1BD contains all unincorporated businesses, who have filed or were declared on a tax return.
We used the following steps to calculate CR3 and CR10:
- In the NALMF dataset, several observations are missing the NAICS industry code. We fill missing NAICS codes in a year with the value from a prior or subsequent year where available. If the NAICS code is lacking for a firm throughout the entire dataset, the firm is excluded from our analysis.
- For any incorporated firm and each year, we calculate its revenue using the variables farm_total_revenueFootnote 4 and total_revenue from NALMF, and for any unincorporated firm, the revenue is calculated using variables L8299Footnote 5 and L9659Footnote 6 from the T1FD and T1BD dataset. We then calculate the total revenue of a 4-digit NAICS industry by summing up the revenue of all firms in the industry.
- The CR3 and CR10 at the 4-digit NAICS is then calculated as the sum of the revenues for the 3 largest firms for CR3, or 10 largest firms for CR10, and dividing it by the total revenue for the 4-digit NAICS industry.
- The concentration ratio for 2- and 3-digit NAICS industries is calculated as the revenue-weighted averages of concentration ratios of the underlying 4-digit NAICS industries.
Methodology: Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI)
The HHI for an industry is defined as the sum of the squared revenue share of each firm in the industry. A higher HHI value indicates that fewer firms account for a greater share of revenue and that revenue is more unevenly distributed between firms in an industry (i.e., more concentrated within fewer firms). The HHI will range from close to 0 in the case of many tiny firms, to 10,000 in the case where a single firm accounts for all industry revenue.
The HHI was provided to us in custom cross-tabulations by Statistics Canada using the NALMF and T1FD and T1BD, covering the years 2005 to 2018 for each 4-digit NAICS code (unless data was withheld for a particular NAICS code-year pair due to confidentiality concerns).
Similar to the concentration ratios, we follow steps 1 and 2 (see the section on Concentration Ratios above) to compute revenues for firms and 4-digit NAICS industries. We then divide each firm's revenue by total industry revenue to obtain the revenue share for each firm in a 4-digit NAICS industry.
The HHI is then calculated by summing the squared revenue share of each active firm in a 4-digit NAICS industry. The HHI for 2- and 3-digit NAICS industries is calculated as the revenue-weighted averages of HHI of the underlying 4-digit NAICS industries.
For the CR3, Statistics Canada only released revenue-weighted averages (of 4-digit NAICS industries) at the 3- and 2-digit NAICS code levels to protect the confidentiality of individual firms.
Further, Statistics Canada did not release CR10, CR3, and HHI measures for certain NAICS industries in certain years. This was done when the number of firms in a NAICS industry in a particular year was too low, or where one or a few firms were over-represented in the output. This is important in the context of concentration measures since more concentrated industries are more likely to be the subject of redactions.
Concentrated industries have become more concentrated (HHI)
By grouping industries by their mean concentration over the entire period from 2005 to 2018, we can track and compare the change in concentration for those industries that are most concentrated with those industries that are less concentrated. Figure A1 shows the change in HHI for industries grouped by their mean HHI over the whole sample. We group industries into 4 quartiles (top 25%, middle 50% to 75%, middle 25% to 50%, and bottom 25%) as well as the top and bottom 10%.
We are especially interested in looking at how concentration has evolved in industries that are highly concentrated. These are the ones that we would most likely scrutinize in the context of our work to enforce or advocate for competition.Footnote 7
We see an overall increase in concentration for the most concentrated industries, namely the top quarter of industries, ranked by concentration, and within that group, for the top 10% of industries.Footnote 8
Description of Figure A1
Figure A1: Average annual HHI from 2005 to 2018 for industries that are grouped by average HHI Year Top 10% Top 25% Mid 50-75% Mid 25-50% Bottom 25% Bottom 10% 2005 2818.476 1941.810 848.493 340.836 137.071 56.469 2006 2701.440 1983.774 757.843 304.922 76.733 44.221 2007 2813.578 2035.749 768.752 229.123 52.077 20.769 2008 3145.707 2194.617 752.872 254.597 58.458 21.306 2009 3794.201 2355.358 728.143 302.075 57.892 20.014 2010 3537.148 2263.147 753.463 299.485 47.046 15.907 2011 3082.633 2190.775 700.738 252.589 48.402 18.459 2012 3003.323 2173.087 664.871 228.389 42.890 17.591 2013 3058.483 2244.975 637.092 230.933 45.629 15.726 2014 3351.492 2267.728 657.287 219.219 42.930 17.056 2015 3364.499 2231.552 641.694 217.085 42.889 15.133 2016 3439.932 2201.032 713.576 220.587 48.575 15.149 2017 3134.896 2225.665 781.868 236.095 50.116 13.336 2018 3060.004 2148.750 741.123 303.211 46.381 15.248
More specifically, the HHI for the most concentrated group of industries (Top 10%) increased from 2,818 to 3,060 (8.6%) from 2005 to 2018, and the HHI for the Top 25% increased from 1,942 to 2,149 (10.7%) over this period. By comparison, the average HHI of all industries decreased from 800 to 790 (-1.3%). This overall decline is driven by decreasing concentration in less concentrated industries, as seen in Table A1.
|HHI in 2005||HHI in 2018||Change in HHI|
In order to further verify that concentration has risen for industries that were, on average, the most concentrated, we assessed the change in concentration from 2005 to 2018 for industries that could be described as highly concentrated (HHI greater than 2,500), moderately concentrated (HHI between 1,500 and 2,500) and non-concentrated (HHI less than 1,500).Footnote 9
We found that, for highly concentrated industries, 9 (out of 26) further increased in concentration, while 2 decreased, 13 showed no meaningful change in concentration, and for 2 industries output was withheld or missing and we could not measure a trend. Likewise for moderately concentrated industries, 8 (out of 27) increased in concentration, while 5 decreased, and 14 showed no meaningful change. Meanwhile for non-concentrated industries, almost twice as many industries showed a decrease rather than an increase. This is detailed below in Table A2.
|HHI over 2500||HHI 1500 to 2500||HHI below 1500||All Industries|
|Increase in HHI||9||8||42||59|
|Decrease in HHI||2||5||81||88|
|No meaningful change||13||14||137||164|
|Could not measure trendFootnote 10||2||0||1||3|
More industries have become highly concentrated
We find that the number of concentrated industries has increased from 2005 to 2018. Below, in Table A3, we track the number of industries (4-digit NAICS) that are highly concentrated (HHI greater than 2,500), moderately concentrated (HHI between 1,500 and 2,500) and unconcentrated industries (HHI less than 1,500).Footnote 11 We find there is an increase in the number of industries with HHI greater than 2,500.Footnote 12
|HHI over 2500||HHI 1500 to 2500||HHI below 1500||Industries with no data released due to confidentiality|
|Number of Industries (2005)||19||27||259||8|
|Number of Industries (2018)||27||25||254||7|
|Change in Number of Industries||8||-2||-5||-|
Comparing HHI to CR10 and CR3
We focus our analysis on concentration primarily on HHI as it is the most descriptive measure of concentration. While CR10 and CR3 are also informative measures of concentration, they do not provide the same detail as HHI. HHI provides insight on the distribution of shares in an industry, while CR10 and CR3 only provide information on the combined share of the 10 or 3 largest firms.
For example, a hypothetical industry with a CR10 of 100% could have widely different HHIs. HHI would be 1,000 in an industry where the top 10 firms each have a 10% share. However, HHI would be 8,111 in an industry where one firm has a share of 90% while the remaining 10% of industry revenues are split equally between the remaining nine firms.
Description of Figure A2
The figure is a scatter plot of HHI and CR10, with CR10 on the Y axis and HHI on the X axis. The figure shows that HHI and CR10 are positively correlated, in particular in industries of low concentration, where both measures are near 0. As CR10 increases dispersion in HHI increases; for industries with more than 80% CR10, HHI ranges from under 1000 to over 7000. These wide variations in HHI among industries with similar CR10 reflect significant differences in the distribution of revenues outside of the top ten largest firms.
Description of Figure A3
The figure is a scatter plot of the natural logarithms of HHI and of CR10, with ln(CR10) on the Y axis and ln(HHI) on the X axis. When we take the natural logs of both, they appear very clearly correlated, even more so than as shown in figure A2.
We expect concentration ratios to be correlated with HHI, and we do find that CR10 and HHI are strongly correlated.Footnote 13 The correlation between the CR10 and HHI is 0.784, and the correlation between the logarithm of CR10 and the logarithm of HHI is 0.928. Further, we find that 61% of industries that are in the top 10% by HHI are also in the top 10% by CR10. Comparisons of the HHI with the CR3 are less informative because the output we received for industry CR3 was aggregated up to the 3-digit NAICS level as a weighted average of 4-digit NAICS CR3s for confidentiality reasons.
HHI and CR10 present similar trends
Below we plot trends in CR10 across the distribution of industries just like we did for HHI above. We find a similar increase in the concentration of the most concentrated industries, although it is smaller compared to the increase in HHI. This difference in magnitude is not unexpected given the wide variance in HHI we observe in the most concentrated industries by CR10. HHI is more sensitive to the distribution of revenue shares and will therefore capture greater variation in industry composition.
Description of Figure A4
Figure A4: Average annual CR10 from 2005 to 2018 for industries that are grouped by average CR10 Year Top 10% Top 25% Mid 50-75% Mid 25-50% Bottom 25% Bottom 10% 2005 0.895 0.809 0.547 0.382 0.225 0.178 2006 0.923 0.822 0.527 0.346 0.177 0.134 2007 0.927 0.814 0.530 0.333 0.142 0.828 2008 0.928 0.820 0.544 0.329 0.148 0.083 2009 0.930 0.825 0.534 0.327 0.151 0.096 2010 0.938 0.828 0.541 0.330 0.140 0.073 2011 0.936 0.822 0.536 0.320 0.132 0.077 2012 0.930 0.817 0.531 0.310 0.130 0.074 2013 0.931 0.816 0.524 0.302 0.131 0.066 2014 0.930 0.807 0.534 0.294 0.129 0.068 2015 0.926 0.799 0.540 0.306 0.122 0.067 2016 0.922 0.797 0.541 0.309 0.122 0.064 2017 0.918 0.820 0.560 0.316 0.121 0.061 2018 0.915 0.821 0.547 0.322 0.125 0.061
The CR10 for the most concentrated group of industries (Top 10%) increased from 90% to 92% (+2.2%) from 2005 to 2018, and the CR10 for the Top 25% increased from 81% to 82% (+1.4%) over this period. By comparison, the average CR10 across all industries dropped from 49% to 45% from 2005 to 2018 (-8%). Once again, we find that this decline is driven by a decrease in concentration of less concentrated industries. These changes are detailed in Table A4 below.
|Group||CR10 in 2005||CR10 in 2018||Change in CR10 (Percentage Points)|
Trends in CR3
Trends in CR3 do not reflect the trends observed for HHI and CR10. We saw CR3 decline for industries where it was highest as well as for all industries on average. This is reflected in Figure A5 below, where we plot the evolution of CR3 by grouping industries by their average CR3 over all years.
Description of Figure A5
Figure A5: Average annual CR3 from 2005 to 2018 for industries that are grouped by average CR3 Year Top 10% Top 25% Mid 50-75% Mid 25-50% Bottom 25% Bottom 10% 2005 0.729 0.613 0.346 0.194 0.121 0.085 2006 0.711 0.599 0.367 0.185 0.113 0.074 2007 0.696 0.589 0.307 0.186 0.087 0.053 2008 0.696 0.607 0.307 0.201 0.088 0.048 2009 0.729 0.610 0.295 0.201 0.089 0.048 2010 0.719 0.612 0.297 0.210 0.080 0.043 2011 0.656 0.579 0.310 0.198 0.079 0.056 2012 0.647 0.569 0.280 0.177 0.077 0.066 2013 0.666 0.572 0.267 0.173 0.081 0.058 2014 0.662 0.541 0.275 0.165 0.081 0.059 2015 0.645 0.528 0.282 0.177 0.070 0.049 2016 0.690 0.538 0.282 0.168 0.069 0.050 2017 0.692 0.546 0.288 0.184 0.061 0.040 2018 0.702 0.548 0.288 0.175 0.056 0.043
The CR3 for the most concentrated group of industries (Top 10%) at the 3-digit NAICS level decreased from 73% to 70% (-3.6%) from 2005 to 2018, and the CR3 for the Top 25% at the 3-digit NAICS level decreased from 61% to 55% (-10.61%) over this period.
However, due to confidentiality, we received CR3 tabulations as weighted means of underlying 4-digit NAICS CR3s for each 3-digit NAICS code. It is important to note that HHI and CR10 at the 4-digit NAICS code level vary greatly within each 3-digit NAICS code. As such, reporting CR3 at the 3-digit NAICS level may mask trends and levels at the more disaggregated 4-digit NAICS level. For example, the most concentrated 3-digit NAICS codes by CR10 have CR10s of 92% and 89% but within these, the underlying 4-digit NAICS codes CR10 values differ greatly. They range from 59% to 98% and from 39% to 99%.
As such, trends observed at the 4-digit NAICS level may not be the same as those observed at a higher level of aggregation, like the 2- or 3-digit NAICS level.
We demonstrate that our findings are robust across various measures of concentration. HHI and CR10 both point to increasing concentration among industries that are most concentrated (in the top 10% and 25%). Although CR3 seems to suggest that concentration is decreasing among the most concentrated industries, the data was quite aggregated for confidentiality reasons and the results are less reliable.
Appendix B: Rank Stability
Rank stability measures the number of firms that remained among the ten largest firms in an industry over the past three years. This helps us understand how dynamic industries are and whether firms can easily challenge the largest players in their industry (also called “contestability”). We obtained the average rank stability of 4-digit North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code industries within each 3-digit NAICS code industry for the period from 2003 to 2020.
Rank Stability was provided to us in custom cross-tabulations by Statistics Canada using the National Accounts Longitudinal Microdata File (NALMF) dataset at the ultimate parent ID level. We calculate rank stability measures using two criteria: revenue and variable profits.Footnote 1 To construct our dataset, we implement the following data cleaning procedure:
- In the NALMF dataset, several observations are missing the NAICS industry code. We fill missing NAICS codes in a year with the value from a prior or subsequent year, where available. If the NAICS code is lacking for a firm throughout the entire dataset, the firm is excluded from our analysis.
- We combine firms that have different enterprise IDs but the same ultimate parent ID. In doing so, we sum over their related variables (such as total revenue and variable profit) so that we end up having one observation for each ultimate parent ID and NAICS pair for each year.Footnote 2
- Below we show how to derive the rank stability for industry-year (j, t) based on the revenue criterion. Rank stability based on variable profit is derived similarly. First, we merge data for year t with data for year based on the enterprise ID. Then, for each 4-digit NAICS code, we identify the top ten firms by revenue in year t and also the top ten firms in year . Rank stability is the number of firms belonging to both groups.
- In order to protect the confidentiality of firms in this data, Statistics Canada did not provide output at the 4-digit NAICS code. Rather, we obtained average rank stability for 4-digit NAICS codes within 2- and 3-digit NAICS codes.
We find a general increase in rank stability across the economy, indicating that the largest firms in an industry are less likely to be replaced, facing less of a challenge to their top position.
Profit-based and revenue-based rank stability display similar trends and levels
In our main report, we focus on revenue-based rank stability as it relates most closely to our measurements of industry concentration, which is calculated based on revenue shares. However, we also obtained tabulations of rank stability based on profits. In Figure B1 below we plot average rank stability based on both profits and revenue. Both indicators show a similar trend.
Description of Figure B1
Figure B1: Average profit-based and revenue-based rank stability from 2003 to 2020 for all industries Year Average Rank Stability Profit-based rank stability Revenue-based rank stability 2003 4.155 4.283 2004 4.281 4.475 2005 4.353 4.429 2006 4.178 4.340 2007 4.604 4.809 2008 4.985 5.224 2009 4.896 5.040 2010 5.128 5.202 2011 5.022 5.252 2012 5.112 5.444 2013 5.358 5.545 2014 5.384 5.510 2015 5.568 5.703 2016 5.409 5.540 2017 5.280 5.383 2018 5.204 5.433 2019 5.310 5.508 2020 5.548 5.778
Calculating the industry level time trend for profit-based and revenue-based rank stability yielded similar results. The percentage of industries that saw a meaningfulFootnote 3 increase or decrease in rank stability is very similar, as shown in Tables B1 and B2.
|Number of Industries||Percentage of Industries||Share of All Industry Revenues|
|Increase in rank stability||31||32%||46%|
|Decrease in rank stability||1||1%||0%|
|No meaningful change||44||45%||28%|
|Could not measure trendFootnote 4||22||22%||21%|
|Number of Industries||Percentage of Industries||Share of All Industry Revenues|
|Increase in rank stability||33||34%||49%|
|Decrease in rank stability||0||0%||0%|
|No meaningful change||43||44%||25%|
|Could not measure trend||22||22%||21%|
When we consider industry specific time trends, we observe that industries representing over 45% of all revenues, were increasing in rank stability between 2003 and 2020 for both measures. Less than 1% of industries saw their rank stability fall. These account for less than 0.5% of all industry revenues.
Rank stability has increased across the distribution of industries
To identify how rank stability has changed across the economy, we grouped industries and plotted the evolution of rank stability for the industries with the highest rank stability on average across all years to those with the lowest rank stability. Figure B2 and Table B3 present the trends for revenue-based rank stability for each group.Footnote 5 We find that the increase in rank-stability is widespread across industries regardless of the rank stability in 2003. In fact, industries with lower rank stability at the beginning of the period saw a more rapid rise in rank stability.
Description of Figure B2
Figure B2: Average revenue-based rank stability from 2003 to 2020 for industries that are grouped by average revenue-based rank stabilityFootnote 6 Year Top 10% Top 25% Mid 50-75% Mid 25-50% Bottom 25% Bottom 10% 2003 5.611 5.083 4.479 4.412 3.615 3.301 2004 5.333 5.306 4.973 4.453 3.593 3.076 2005 6.125 5.324 5.011 4.294 3.447 2.646 2006 6.042 5.492 4.955 4.015 3.428 2.379 2007 6.233 5.979 5.025 4.735 3.914 3.552 2008 6.767 6.25 5.389 5.066 4.393 4.033 2009 6.1 6.030 5.359 5.030 4.248 4.007 2010 6.367 6.096 5.354 5.176 4.393 4.588 2011 5.7 6.125 5.736 5.117 4.408 4.357 2012 6.833 6.428 5.721 5.448 4.400 4.481 2013 6.528 6.606 5.785 5.202 4.631 4.405 2014 7.028 6.396 6.047 5.141 4.657 4.451 2015 7.357 6.539 5.799 5.338 5.148 4.985 2016 6.762 6.329 5.836 5.207 4.841 4.643 2017 6.262 6.088 5.908 5.027 4.459 3.998 2018 6.476 6.368 5.987 5.177 4.397 3.985 2019 6.833 6.323 6.046 5.273 4.509 4.198 2020 6.786 6.463 6.154 5.585 4.970 4.547
|Group||Rank Stability in 2003||Rank Stability in 2020||Change in Rank Stability|
We find that rank stability is increasing across all industry groups and these findings hold for both the profit- and revenue-based rank stability.
Appendix C: Entry, Exit, and Survival Rates
Entry (exit) rates for a given year are calculated as the ratio of new entrants (exits) to active firms. Healthy entry and exit in a market may signal that more efficient firms are entering and replacing less efficient incumbents. This turnover may lead to increased levels of innovation and higher competitive intensity. Although entry and exit rates are useful indicators, it is important to consider them along with other indicators. For example, if smaller, newer firms are mainly the ones that are exiting industries, higher entry or exit may not mean greater competition.
Entry and Exit Rates
Entry and exit information is provided to us in custom cross-tabulations by Statistics Canada using the Longitudinal Employment Analysis Program (LEAP) dataset. We calculate entry and exit rates for each 4-digit North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) industry.
We focus on active firms, that is, those firms with positive average labour units (ALU). The ALU is defined as the average employment for a firm if it paid its workers the average annual earnings (AAE) of a typical worker in that given province, enterprise size, and 4-digit NAICS industry.
We define the following variables:
- Entry: the number of active firms in period t that did not exist or have an ALU of zero in period
- Exit: the number of active firms in period t that did not exist or have an ALU of zero in period
As a robustness check, we also compute longer-term measures of entry and exit:
- Entry (long-term): the number of active firms in period t that did not exist or have an ALU of zero in period , , and
- Exit (long-term): the number of active firms in period t that did not exist or have an ALU of zero in period , , and
Rates are calculated by taking the relevant count and dividing by the number of active firms in each industry for each year.
Survival rates were provided to us in custom cross-tabulations by Statistics Canada using the LEAP data set. First, we keep active firms with a positive ALU. The survival rate is then calculated as the number of firms that have been active during the past five years (including the current year), divided by the number of active firms averaged over these years.
Entry and exit rates have declined overall
We look at revenue-weighted average entry and exit rates between 2001 and 2020 and observe a decline in entry and exit rates. See Figure C1.
Description of Figure C1
Figure C1: Average entry and exit rates from 2001 to 2020 for all industries* Year Entry (Proportional to Active Firms) Exit (Proportional to Active Firms) 2001 0.118 0.134 2002 0.106 0.124 2003 0.105 0.112 2004 0.117 0.103 2005 0.115 0.098 2006 0.113 0.102 2007 0.093 0.102 2008 0.087 0.103 2009 0.094 0.120 2010 0.091 0.111 2011 0.091 0.104 2012 0.101 0.103 2013 0.097 0.105 2014 0.096 0.105 2015 0.095 0.104 2016 0.092 0.115 2017 0.097 0.103 2018 0.098 0.105 2019 0.101 0.105 2020 0.900 0.123
*Average of industry rates of entry and exit weighted by industry revenue
More specifically, we find that the revenue-weighted average entry and exit rates have gone down across the economy between 2001 and 2020. Entry rates have gone down by 24% (from 11.8% to 9.0%) and exit rates decreased by 8% between 2001 and 2020 (from 13.4% to 12.3%).Footnote 1 See Table C1.
|Variable||Rate in 2001||Rate in 2020||Change in Rate (Percentage Points)|
To verify that entry and exit rates have decreased in general, we assessed the industry level time-trend in entry and exit rates from 2001 to 2020 in Table C2 and Table C3. We found that 37% of industries (47.5% revenue share) saw a meaningfulFootnote 2 decline in the entry rate and 20.7% of industries (27.1% revenue share) saw a meaningful decline in the exit rate.
|Number of Industries (4-digit NAICS)||Percentage of Industries||Share of All Industry Revenues|
|Increase in entry rate||20||5.9%||6.3%|
|Decrease in entry rate||125||37.0%||47.5%|
|No meaningful change||149||44.1%||38.6%|
|Could not measure trendFootnote 3||44||13.0%||7.6%|
|Number of Industries (4-digit NAICS)||Percentage of Industries||Share of All Industry Revenues|
|Increase in exit rate||22||6.5%||14.4%|
|Decrease in exit rate||70||20.7%||27.1%|
|No meaningful change||205||60.7%||52.0%|
|Could not measure trend||41||12.1%||6.5%|
As a robustness check, we also consider long-term exit and entry rates. We find that long-term entry and exit rates are strongly correlated with the short-term entry and exit rates. In addition, the overall change in entry and exit rates over the entire sample period is consistent.
|Variable||Change in Rate (Percentage Points)||Pearson Correlation with Short-Term Entry/Exit|
Our report focuses on reporting entry and exit. This method recorded firms who became active after being inactive in the previous year (entry) and firms who became inactive after being active in the previous year (exit). We present these measures as we have the greatest data available.
We also assess an alternative long-term measure of entry and exit. This method recorded firms who became active after being inactiveFootnote 4 for 3 previous years (long-term entry) and where active firms became and remained inactive for 3 subsequent years (long-term exit).Footnote 5 A significant amount of this data at the 4-digit NAICS level are withheld for confidentiality. We find that the trends are similar where data was available for both methods of calculating entry and exit. This confirms our observation of reduced industry dynamism.
Survival rates have risen slightly overall
We look at revenue-weighted survival rates between 2005 and 2020. We see a modest increase in survival rates between 2001 and 2020. See Figure C2.
Description of Figure C2
Figure C2: Average survival rate from 2005 to 2020 for all industries* Year Average Survival Rate (Proportional to Active Firms) Lower Survival Rate (Proportional to Active Firms) Upper Survival Rate (Proportional to Active Firms) 2005 0.684 0.600 0.773 2006 0.692 0.602 0.778 2007 0.698 0.607 0.783 2008 0.702 0.615 0.788 2009 0.684 0.605 0.772 2010 0.694 0.619 0.783 2011 0.704 0.634 0.795 2012 0.700 0.629 0.788 2013 0.702 0.632 0.793 2014 0.707 0.637 0.798 2015 0.708 0.635 0.798 2016 0.703 0.637 0.800 2017 0.705 0.638 0.801 2018 0.706 0.638 0.802 2019 0.707 0.634 0.801 2020 0.704 0.631 0.797
*Average of industry survival rate weighted by industry revenue. The shaded red area indicates +/- 1 standard deviation from the mean. This represents the range where approximately 68% of the industry level data lies within any given year.
More specifically, we find that the revenue-weighted survival rate between 2005 and 2020 has increased by 2.9% (from 68.4% to 70.4%). See Table C5.
|Survival Rate in 2005||Survival Rate in 2020||Change in Survival Rate (Percentage Points)|
|Number of Industries (4-digit NAICS)||Percentage of Industries||Share of All Industry Revenues|
|Increase in survival rate||195||57.7%||58.9%|
|Decrease in survival rate||35||10.4%||9.7%|
|No meaningful change||84||24.9%||25.0%|
|Could not measure trend||24||7.1%||6.3%|
To verify that survival rates have increased in general, we assessed the industry level time-trend in survival rates from 2005 to 2020 in Table C6. We found that 57.7% of industries (58.9% revenue share) saw a meaningful increase in the survival rate.
Appendix D: Cost Disadvantage Ratio (CDR)
Competition within a market functions well when incumbents are continually contested by potential new entrants. A precondition for this is the ability for an entrant to enter a market and to do so at sufficient scale. Barriers to entry may restrict potential competitors from gaining access to a market thus giving incumbents the flexibility to raise prices above cost. Barriers to entry can include things like regulation, and the presence of economies of scale.
The presence of economies of scale can give a cost advantage to the incumbent. If incumbents are operating at the minimum efficient scale, they are able to spread fixed costs over a larger amount of output thus lowering their per-unit costsFootnote 1. However, a new firm may be producing at a higher per-unit cost relative to incumbents and therefore discouraged from entering industries with high economies of scale. This difference in per-unit costs can be measured by the cost disadvantage ratio (CDR).
To measure the CDR, we would ideally have variations in average unit costs. However, under certain circumstances, value-added per worker provides an inverse measure of variations in unit costs.Footnote 2,Footnote 3 Caves et al. (1975) suggest computing the CDR as the ratio of the value added per worker in the smallest 50% of firms to the value added per worker in the largest 50% of firms.Footnote 4
The CDR measures the economies of scale in an industry by comparing the efficiency of larger firms to their smaller rivals. We use the National Accounts Longitudinal Microdata File (NALMF) dataset to estimate the cost-disadvantage ratio from 2001 to 2018 for each 3-digit North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) industry.Footnote 5 To account for common ownership, we use the ultimate parent ID as our unit of observation instead of the enterprise ID. To construct our dataset, we implement the following data cleaning procedure:
- In the NALMF dataset, several observations are missing the NAICS industry code. We fill these missing NAICS codes in a year with the value from a prior or subsequent year, where available. If the NAICS code is missing for a firm throughout the entire period, the firm is excluded from our analysis.
- We combine firms that have different enterprise ID but the same ultimate parent ID. In doing so, we sum over their related variables (including sales, value-added, and labour force) so that we end up having one observation for each ultimate parent ID and NAICS pair for each year.
- We only keep active firms. We define an active firm as any firm that has strictly positive sales of goods and services and has an average annual labour force greater than 1.Footnote 6, We drop any firms with missing variables for average annual labour or sales of goods and services.
- To construct our indicator variable, the firms for each year and 3-digit NAICS code are first sorted based on their sales. We then divide the firms into two groups: a group of smaller firms in terms of sales of goods and services that make up 50% of the total industry sales (indicated by variable , and a group of larger firms that covers the other 50% of the total industry sales (indicated by variable .
- To maintain the confidentiality of individual firms, if the number of large firms (those with ) is less than 10, we place the largest 10 firms into the group of larger firms.
- The dependent variable of our regression equation is calculated as the value added per worker using the sum of T4 payroll and capital income (value_added_WW) and dividing by the mean of monthly employment submissions (PD7_AvgEmp_12) from the NALMF dataset.
- Following Caves et al. (1975) we estimate the CDR by running the following regression where indexes firms, indexes NAICS codes, and indexes years. In this regression, is an indicator for whether firm is operating in industry in year . ( ) is a metric that determines if firm i is part of the set of large (small) firms based on its sales, which represent halfFootnote 7 of the total market share in industry .
- CDR is then calculated as which is intuitively the average value added per worker for smaller firms divided by the average value added per worker for larger firms. Assuming larger firms are more cost-efficient, it is expected that this ratio will be less than 1.
- We use the delta method to estimate the standard error of CDR. Specifically, let be the estimated coefficients and their variance. The estimated variance of is then calculated as:Footnote 8
For the remainder of this section we report the reciprocal of the CDR . We have done the same in the main report. This adjustment makes the CDR increasing in the degree of economies of scale. Values appearing at the upper end of the distribution represent industries with large economies of scale whereas industries at the lower end of the distribution have small economies of scale.
Economies of scale declined overall
By grouping industries by their mean reciprocal CDR over the entire period from 2001 to 2018, we can track and compare the change in reciprocal CDR for those industries that have higher economies of scale with those industries that have lower economies of scale. Figure D1 shows the change in reciprocal CDR for industries grouped by their mean reciprocal CDR over the whole sample. We group industries into four quartiles (top 25%, middle 50% to 75%, middle 25% to 50%, and bottom 25%) as well as the top and bottom 10%.
We are especially interested in assessing how reciprocal CDR has evolved in industries that have large economies of scale. These are likely the industries with high barriers to entry.
We observe an overall decrease in the reciprocal CDR for industries with high economies of scale, namely the top quarter of industries, ranked by concentration, and within that group, for the top 10% of industries.
Description of Figure D1
Figure D1: Average annual reciprocal CDR from 2001 to 2018 for industries that are grouped by high to low economies of scale Year Top 10% Top 25% Mid 50-75% Mid 25-50% Bottom 25% Bottom 10% 2001 9.92 6.01 2.29 1.88 1.47 1.27 2002 10.17 5.68 2.37 1.89 1.30 1.13 2003 12.30 6.85 2.38 1.82 1.29 1.07 2004 8.48 5.78 2.21 1.70 1.28 1.16 2005 7.52 4.78 2.62 1.65 1.27 1.17 2006 6.82 5.16 2.38 1.64 1.29 1.13 2007 11.00 6.32 2.38 1.72 1.34 1.29 2008 5.07 4.07 2.26 1.69 1.32 1.11 2009 8.27 5.16 2.03 1.74 1.24 1.06 2010 4.32 3.57 2.19 1.74 1.21 1.01 2011 6.96 4.64 2.20 2.11 1.35 1.05 2012 5.15 4.25 2.12 1.73 1.46 1.08 2013 5.01 3.97 2.03 1.71 1.31 1.09 2014 3.21 3.07 2.82 1.76 1.29 1.09 2015 3.60 3.42 2.15 1.74 1.26 1.11 2016 4.30 3.67 2.07 1.67 1.25 1.07 2017 5.05 4.14 2.04 1.84 1.37 1.05 2018 3.70 3.76 2.05 1.74 1.30 1.16
More specifically, the reciprocal CDR for the groups of industries with highest economies of scale (Top 10%) decreased from 9.92 to 3.70 (-62.64%) from 2001 to 2018, and for the Top 25% decreased from 6.02 to 3.77 (-37.38%) over this period. This suggests that the cost advantage larger firms possess relative to smaller firms due to economies of scale in these industries is shrinking. As economies of scale decrease, new firms do not need to reach as large a size in order to compete against larger existing firms. That may signal lower barriers to entry and an improved competitive position for potential entrants. However, we did not see corresponding rising entry rates during this period.
|Group||Reciprocal CDR in 2001||Reciprocal CDR in 2018||Change in Reciprocal CDR|
To further verify that the reciprocal CDR has decreased in general, we assessed the industry level time-trend in reciprocal CDR from 2001 to 2018.Footnote 9 We found that 21% of industries (22% revenue share) saw a meaningful decline in the reciprocal CDR between 2001 and 2018.
|Trend Direction||Number of Industries||Percentage of Industries||Share of All Industry Revenues|
|Increase in reciprocal CDR||16||15.2%||14.0%|
|Decrease in reciprocal CDR||22||21.0%||22.1%|
|No meaningful change||59||56.2%||45.5%|
|Could not measure trendFootnote 10||8||7.6%||18.4%|
Although only 21.0% of industries have a decreasing trend coefficient, we see that the overall decrease is largely driven by industries in the top 25%.
Efficiency is not driving concentration
Of the top 10% most concentrated industries by HHI, none exhibit meaningful increases in reciprocal CDR over time. As a result, we conclude that the most concentrated industries are not becoming more concentrated due to increases in relative efficiency from the largest firms.
Appendix E: Markups
Firms set prices that incorporate their costs and reflect competitive pressure from rival firms.
In the absence of competitive pressure, firms may have market power and the ability to raise prices. Price-cost markups are a direct measure of market power and can identify industries where competition is lacking. Although markups are a standard tool for assessing market power, they do not provide a complete picture when considered independently from other measures. For example, price-cost markups may not reflect things like non-price competition and capacity constraints.
We use the National Accounts Longitudinal Microdata File (NALMF) dataset to estimate firm-level markups from 2002 to 2018. To construct our dataset we applied certain data cleaning processes.
First, in the NALMF dataset, several observations are missing the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) industry code. We fill missing NAICS in a year with the value from a prior or subsequent year, where available. If the NAICS code is missing for a firm throughout the entire dataset, the firm is excluded from our analysis. Second, we only keep firms with strictly positive and non-missing revenues.
We also incorporate GDP deflators using sector-year specific GDP and real GDP sourced from Statistics Canada.Footnote 1 For each sector and each year, sector GDP divided by sector real GDP yields the deflator.
Next, we construct the key variables used in the markup calculations. Specifically, the wage bill is proxied by total payroll for the firm, revenue is proxied by the variable total sales of goods and services,Footnote 2 employment is proxied by the mean of all monthly employment submissions, the capital stock is proxied by the sum of total tangible capital assets and the total accumulated amortization on tangible capital assets, overhead expenditure is proxied by total operating expenses, and investment is proxied by the sum of net investment in buildings and net investment in machinery and equipment. We only keep active firms in our analysis.Footnote 3
We calculate the market share of each firm in its 4-digit NAICS in each year. (This corresponds to the variable z in the model below, i.e., an output market factor that generates variation in factor demand across firms). We then merge in the GDP deflators at the 4-digit sector-year level to deflate all nominal values to real values. We follow De Loecker et al. (2020) and only use GDP deflators rather than different deflators for different variables such as revenue and investment.
Next, we only keep firms with a strictly positive wage billFootnote 4 and take the logarithm of revenue, capital stock, and employment, dropping observations with missing values for any of the logged variables. In other words, only observations with strictly positive revenue, capital stock, and employment are retained. We further take the logarithm of overhead expenditure and investment, but we do not drop observations with missing logged overhead expenditure and/or investment. We will drop them only when we implement the two-step or one-step approach, because the overhead expenditure (investment) variable will be used only in the two-step (one-step) approach.
Three further remarks are helpful. First, the calculation of market shares is performed at the beginning before dropping observations with missing logged variables as market share should be computed using all available data. Dropping observations would have the effect of overestimating firm-level market shares. Second, we only keep observations with at least one employee.Footnote 5 Third, the wage bill will only be used to calculate a variable representing a share, so there is no need to take its logarithm.
Next, we proceed to the markup calculations. We follow two approaches to computing markups: the De Loecker and Warzynski (2012)Footnote 6 two-step approach and the Olley and Pakes (1996)Footnote 7 one-step approach. These two approaches compute the numerator of the estimated markups calculation.
Estimating Output Elasticity of the Variable Input: De Loecker and Warzynski (2012) Two-step Approach (DLW)
At the beginning of the two-step approach, we drop observations with missing log overhead expenditure (but we disregard log investment). Our coding for this approach follows mostly the replication code for the original De Loecker-Warzynski paper, with two small deviations due to specific features of our data.
- We calculate the per capita wage bill of each firm in each year, which is wage bill divided by employment. Then, in each 4-digit NAICS, we drop outlier observations with per capita wage bill in the top or bottom 2%.Footnote 8 Dropping these outlier firms with extreme values of per capita wage bill likely excludes firms with many non-producing employees (e.g., managers) or an outsize proportion of part-time workers. This is consistent with the intention of our measure of employment capturing the adjustable part of firms' workforce.
- We use the coefficients from an OLS regression as the starting values for the GMM estimation to facilitate convergence.
De Loecker et al. (2020)Footnote 9 show the markup (price over marginal cost) of a firm in a year is:
where is the number of units of a variable input (e.g., labour), is the price of input is revenue, and is the output elasticity of the variable input. must be obtained by estimating a production function. The variable input is something the firm can adjust easily, which, in the case of De Loecker et al. (2020), is the cost of goods sold or employment.
We restrict to be the same through time for firms within a 4-digit NAICS (hence we add subscript s to represents a 4-digit NAICS and drop subscript t) but allow it to vary flexibly across sectors. A firm's production function can be represented as
where lower-case variables mean logged quantities (e.g., ), captures unobserved productivity shocks and captures measurement errors. is revenue, is employment, is capital stock, and is overhead expenditure. The standard approach to dealing with endogeneity (i.e., input choices may be functions of innovations in the productivity shock) is to use a control function. We let the productivity shock be a flexible function of states and controls
where is a static choice of the firm (either cost of goods sold as in Olley and Pakes or investment as in Ackerberg et al. (2015))Footnote 10 and are controls which capture shifts in output and input markets. DLW is a two-step approach where we consider , leading us to a nonparametric production function
We assume that the productivity shock evolves according to a first-order Markov process, i.e., . We first estimate the function and recover productivity as . The structural parameters (, and ) can be estimated using the following moment conditions:
Estimating Output Elasticity of the Variable Input: Olley and Pakes (1996) One-step Approach (OP)
The Olley-Pakes one-step approach is straightforward and can be implemented using a single regression. To note: at the beginning of this approach, we drop observations with missing log investment (but we disregard log overhead expenditure).
Olley and Pakes (1996) use investment as control and assume that investment decisions do not affect the productivity shock. Ackerberg et al. (2015) show that this can be estimated in a single step using nonlinear least squares:
Note that in the one-step approach, due to its simplicity, we can allow the output elasticity to vary by year as well. We let be market share and be a set of polynomial basis functions.
The various inputs into the markup calculations are computed as follows:
- For both methods we compute the firm-specific input share of labour relative to total revenues .
- In the DLW methodology, we compute for each 4-digit NAICS industry. This parameter does not vary over time. The same parameter is assigned to each firm within the 4-digit NAICS industry.
- In the OP methodology, we compute for each 4-digit NAICS industry and time period. The parameter is assigned to each firm within a given and pair.
- Markups are computed as follows:
Since marginal cost is not observable in tax data, we rely on the DLW and OP approaches to estimate markups using an estimated production function. Although these methodologies allow us to calculate markup without marginal cost, there are a number of potential limitations.
Doraszelski and Jaumandreu (2021)Footnote 11 criticize the approach of De Loecker and Warzynski (2012) for measuring markups from production function data. They point out that the DLW method is not robust to differences in demand across firms or time unless they are observed by the econometrician. Another paper by Bond et al. (2021)Footnote 12 explores identification and estimation challenges with computing markups using the ratio estimator. In terms of identification, the ratio estimator does not reflect markups if revenue elasticity is used instead of output elasticity or if the inputs used are neither fully fixed nor fully flexible. Furthermore, even when observing quantity and prices, it can also be challenging to estimate output elasticity when firms face different demand schedules and non-linear productivity dynamics.
Despite these limitations, researchers have pointed out that as long as the true and estimated production functions do not change over time—a standard assumption in the literature—changes or trends in markups are identified and can be consistently estimated. It can be shown that percentage change in estimated markups reflect the percentage change in true markups. It therefore makes most sense to consider percentage changes in estimated markups.Footnote 13
Trends in markups are robust to the estimation model used
In Figure E1 and E2 we present the markups from the OP and DLW methodologies using both revenue and labour weights. The most important thing to note is that the choice of weighting scheme does not impact the trends and variation within the data. For the DLW and OP approach, the revenue- and labour-weighted series exhibit similar co-movements. The primary difference between the OP and DLW approach is that their respective levels differ meaningfully, which has been documented in the literature.Footnote 14 However, for our purposes, we are mostly focused on the evolution of markups over time and the choice of the weighting scheme and the underlying methodology does not meaningfully impact our conclusions.
Description of Figure E1
Figure E1: Average annual markup from 2001 to 2018 by methodology and by weighting procedure Year DLW - Labour Weighted DLW - Revenue Weighted OP - Labour Weighted OP - Revenue Weighted 2001 0 0 0.972 1.068 2002 1.685 1.819 0.961 1.056 2003 1.690 1.824 0.966 1.069 2004 1.692 1.856 0.986 1.092 2005 1.689 1.830 0.974 1.067 2006 1.716 1.862 1.005 1.110 2007 1.742 1.912 0.997 1.105 2008 1.751 1.908 0.978 1.087 2009 1.758 1.923 0.980 1.085 2010 1.761 1.941 0.987 1.099 2011 1.760 1.950 0.983 1.092 2012 1.762 1.937 0.976 1.083 2013 1.755 1.948 0.977 1.090 2014 1.756 1.950 0.977 1.094 2015 1.754 1.921 0.987 1.094 2016 1.803 1.985 1.012 1.129 2017 1.761 1.934 1.007 1.117 2018 1.758 1.942 1.012 1.135
Description of Figure E2
Figure E2: Indexed trend in average markup from 2002 to 2018 by methodology and by weighting procedure (Index, 2002 = 100) Year DLW - Labour Weighted DLW - Revenue Weighted OP - Labour Weighted OP - Revenue Weighted 2002 100 100 100 100 2003 100.319 100.241 100.496 101.276 2004 100.416 102 102.604 103.421 2005 100.274 100.559 101.342 101.122 2006 101.873 102.359 104.604 105.115 2007 103.380 105.099 103.735 104.704 2008 103.953 104.857 101.744 102.946 2009 104.324 105.660 102 102.812 2010 104.501 106.699 102.717 104.151 2011 104.465 107.174 102.243 103.452 2012 104.590 106.473 101.597 102.587 2013 104.182 107.063 101.609 103.278 2014 104.252 107.159 101.626 103.664 2015 104.085 105.576 102.721 103.669 2016 107.008 109.117 105.326 106.914 2017 104.514 106.286 104.785 105.870 2018 104.316 106.740 105.286 107.569
The evolution of markups is robust to various methods of classifying groups
We find that markups are increasing across the distribution of industries, and increasing faster in industries with high markups. We assign 4-digit NAICS industries into groups by their mean markup over the whole sample. We group industries into four quartiles (top 25%, middle 50% to 75%, middle 25% to 50%, and bottom 25%) as well as the top and bottom 10%. In Figure E3, we present average revenue-weighted markups by groups using the DLW approach. Indexing to 100 in 2002 helps us compare the evolution of average markups over time without focusing on the level. As stated earlier, the evolution of markups is very similar regardless of the methodology or weighting scheme used.
Description of Figure E3
Figure E3: Indexed trend in average markup from 2002 to 2018 for industries that are grouped by average markup Year Top 10% Top 25% Mid 50-75% Mid 25-50% Bottom 25% Bottom 10% 2001 0 0 0 0 0 0 2002 100 100 100 100 100 100 2003 100.624 102.067 100.940 99.934 98.580 95.729 2004 105.550 102.650 103.642 101.632 98.529 100.165 2005 104.186 102.858 101.063 99.241 98.965 98.516 2006 103.495 104.947 100.906 100.577 99.692 101.688 2007 114.939 114.713 99.327 98.310 96.096 94.816 2008 115.117 111.198 102.143 99.426 95.882 90.924 2009 119.946 116.627 100.160 96.717 97.494 93.853 2010 123.946 117.074 102.387 98.549 97.689 93.364 2011 129.495 120.072 101.949 97.817 96.567 94.135 2012 110.079 110.398 104.565 99.594 102.999 97.250 2013 120.059 114.322 103.349 100.185 106.085 112.194 2014 118.432 115.119 102.073 98.816 104.345 110.978 2015 118.516 112.198 103.234 99.215 103.834 103.937 2016 119.959 116.847 103.641 104.720 102.601 106.889 2017 110.626 110.326 104.258 102.792 104.360 103.816 2018 112.543 109.933 107.554 102.342 104.240 105.374
|Group||DLW Indexed Markup in 2002 (2002 = 100)||DLW Indexed Markup in 2018 (2002 = 100)||Change in Indexed Markup (Percent)|
Another way to assess the evolution of markups over time is by looking at the 4-digit NAICS specific trend coefficients.
|Number of Industries||Percentage of Industries||Share of All Industry Revenues|
|Increase in markup||55||16.3%||8.2%|
|Decrease in markup||25||7.4%||13.3%|
|No meaningful change||183||54.1%||50.4%|
|Could not measure trendFootnote 15||75||22.2%||28.1%|
We find that a large share of industries have seen no meaningfulFootnote 16 increase. For another group of industries, we did not have enough observations (markups for a particular year for this industry) to conclude whether markups were increasing or decreasing.Footnote 17
Nonetheless, we see a small increase in markups overall and markups have been increasing in more industries than decreasing. We have additional confidence in this trend given that it is consistent with trends that we observed in our measure of profits.
Appendix F: Profits
When firms have to compete aggressively against their rivals, they face pressure to keep their prices low. So we don't expect them to earn substantially higher profits. Looking at trends in profits can give us some insight into the pressures firms face to keep their prices, and therefore their profits, lower in order to compete against their rivals.
Profit information was provided to us in custom tabulations by Statistics Canada. The return on sales (ROS) is defined as a firm's operating profits divided by its revenue. Operating profits are earnings from operations before interest and taxes (EBIT).Footnote 1
Statistics Canada provided tabulations of profit indicators for the years 2000 to 2020 using the National Accounts Longitudinal Microdata File (NALMF) dataset as well as the General Index of Financial Information (GIFI).Footnote 2
Methodology: Return on Sales (ROS)
To construct our dataset, we applied certain data cleaning procedures.
- First, in the NALMF dataset, several observations are missing the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) industry code. We fill missing NAICS codes in a year with the value from a prior or subsequent year, where available. If the NAICS code is missing for a firm throughout the entire dataset, the firm is excluded from our analysis. Second, we only keep firms with strictly positive revenues.
- The ROS was calculated for each firm at the enterprise ID level, and we drop the top and bottom 1% of firms as outliers. For each industry, we take the simple means and the means by percentiles of revenue (as defined below) throughout the distribution of firm size as shown below.
- For each industry-year, we categorize firms into six groups g by revenue:Footnote 3 top 10%, top 25%, top 50%, bottom 50%, bottom 25%, and bottom 10%. For each industry-year-group, we calculate the average ROS as the firm-level average operating profits divided by revenues.Footnote 4
We received output for ROS at the 4-digit, 3-digit, and 2-digit NAICS levels for the distributional groups specified above. Statistics Canada did not provide some output for certain industries in certain years in order to protect the confidentiality of firms in the data.
The ROS is an indicator of how much profit is made after paying for the variable cost of production. However, due to the cost reporting used to build the underlying dataset we rely on, some fixed costs may be captured in the “Cost of Sales” variable we use as our denominator, which could affect comparability between industries or between firms within an industry if they differ in their cost structure.Footnote 5
Consequently, it may be more informative to consider trends in profits, especially in combination with trends in markups.
Industries are becoming more profitable on average
On average, ROS increased for all industries over this time period. The revenue-weighted average (weighting ROS for each industry by its share of all industry revenues) shows an increase in ROS of more than 12.5% or 2 percentage points, while the unweighted average shows an increase in ROS of more than 24% or nearly 4 percentage points. This can be seen in Figure F1.
Description of Figure F1
Figure F1: Average revenue-weighted and unweighted returns on sales from 2000 to 2020 for all industries Year Weighted Unweighted 2000 16.66% 15.68% 2001 17.18% 16.12% 2002 17.31% 16.08% 2003 17.01% 15.77% 2004 16.80% 15.04% 2005 16.25% 15.06% 2006 16.93% 15.27% 2007 17.58% 15.66% 2008 18.58% 16.31% 2009 18.78% 16.60% 2010 18.83% 16.90% 2011 19.79% 17.34% 2012 19.33% 17.19% 2013 19.42% 17.66% 2014 19.16% 18.08% 2015 19.41% 18.21% 2016 18.61% 18.86% 2017 18.28% 18.38% 2018 18.51% 18.64% 2019 18.62% 18.94% 2020 18.76% 19.48%
Most Industries are becoming more profitable
To further investigate this increase in profits and see whether it occurs in most industries, we assessed the change in profits from 2000 to 2020 for each industry.
We find that the rise in profits is widespread. 68% of industries, representing 74% of total industry revenues exhibit a meaningfulFootnote 6 increase in mean ROS. Meanwhile, only 3% of industries, accounting for 11% of total industry revenues, have seen a meaningful decrease in ROS.
|Trend Direction||Number of Industries||Percentage of Industries||Share of All Industry Revenues|
|Increase in profits||228||67.5%||74.1%|
|Decrease in profits||10||3.0%||10.5%|
|No meaningful change||79||23.4%||13.7%|
|Could not measure trendFootnote 7||21||6.2%||1.7%|
Industries with the highest ROS have become more profitable
By grouping industries into 4 quartiles (top 25%, middle 50% to 75%, middle 25% to 50%, and bottom 25%) as well the top and bottom 10% based on their average ROS over the period, we can see in Figure F2 that the most profitable industries have been getting more profitable over the last 20 years.
Description of Figure F2
Figure F2: Average annual ROS from 2000 to 2020 for industries that are grouped by average ROS Year Top 10% Top 25% Mid 50-75% Mid 25-50% Bottom 25% Bottom 10% 2000 0.292 0.238 0.161 0.128 0.099 0.086 2001 0.306 0.247 0.168 0.130 0.098 0.081 2002 0.319 0.252 0.167 0.128 0.094 0.076 2003 0.301 0.244 0.165 0.128 0.092 0.075 2004 0.284 0.229 0.161 0.125 0.090 0.074 2005 0.291 0.234 0.157 0.125 0.090 0.075 2006 0.280 0.233 0.159 0.128 0.091 0.076 2007 0.292 0.240 0.164 0.130 0.093 0.072 2008 0.313 0.252 0.172 0.132 0.096 0.078 2009 0.320 0.261 0.173 0.136 0.094 0.079 2010 0.332 0.268 0.175 0.137 0.098 0.080 2011 0.379 0.285 0.173 0.136 0.101 0.851 2012 0.352 0.277 0.175 0.136 0.099 0.080 2013 0.359 0.283 0.180 0.141 0.102 0.082 2014 0.388 0.293 0.183 0.142 0.104 0.856 2015 0.375 0.292 0.186 0.146 0.105 0.086 2016 0.428 0.314 0.185 0.150 0.105 0.088 2017 0.366 0.292 0.186 0.148 0.110 0.092 2018 0.399 0.304 0.184 0.149 0.109 0.089 2019 0.417 0.314 0.184 0.150 0.110 0.090 2020 0.377 0.305 0.194 0.160 0.122 0.102
|Group||ROS in 2000||ROS in 2020||Change in ROS (Percentage Points)|
ROS increased across all distribution groups. The increase was greatest for the top 10% of industries with the highest profits with an increase of 8.5 percentage points (29% growth) and top 25% of industries with the highest profits with an increase of 6.7 percentage points (28% growth).
Appendix G: Boone Indicator
The Boone indicator is a measure for evaluating the level of competition in a market. The indicator measures the sensitivity of a firm's profit to changes in its marginal costs. The main intuition behind the Boone indicator is that in a more competitive market, inefficient firms with higher costs are less able to profitably pass cost increases on to consumers due to competitive pressure from more efficient rivals. In a market with greater market power, firms are more likely to pass cost increases on to consumers through higher prices.
Methodology: Boone Indicator
Following Boone, Griffith, and Harrison (2005)Footnote 1, we use the National Accounts Longitudinal Microdata File (NALMF) dataset for 2001 to 2018 and estimate the Boone indicator using the following regression equation:
where i indexes firms, j indexes North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes, t indexes years, πit is variable profit, and AVCit is the average variable cost. The Boone indicator is βjt, which we estimate for each year and 3-digit NAICS pair.
To account for common ownership, we present results using the ultimate parent ID as our unit of observation instead of the enterprise ID. To construct our dataset, we implement the following data cleaning procedure:
- In the NALMF dataset, several observations are missing the NAICS industry code. We fill the missing NAICS code in a year with the available value from a prior or subsequent year, where available. If the NAICS code for a firm is missing throughout the entire dataset, the firm is excluded from our analysis.
- We combine firms that have different enterprise ID but the same ultimate parent ID. In doing so, we sum over their related variables (such as sales, cost of sales, etc.) so that we end up having one observation for each ultimate parent ID and NAICS pair for each year.Footnote 2
- We only keep active firms with positive sales.
- After sorting firms based on their market share, we keep firms until 99% of total sales in year t and market j are covered. This allows us to remove the smallest firms whose behavior could potentially skew our analysis.
In theory, the Boone indicator captures how firm efficiency correlates with variable profits and is ideally calculated using marginal cost as the independent variable in the regression (instead of average variable cost as in our specification). However, since marginal costs are not directly observable, we follow Boone, Griffith, and Harrison (2005)Footnote 3 and use average variable cost as a proxy for marginal costs. We calculate our proxy as the cost of goods sold (COGS) divided by total sales. Variable profits are then calculated as total sales minus COGS.
We were able to obtain and review the Boone indicator for 3-digit and 2-digit NAICS industries for release from the Statistics Canada Research Data Centre. However, we could not obtain the output for the Boone indicator at the 4-digit level due to concerns about the confidentiality of firms in the dataset.
Profit elasticity has risen overall
By grouping industries by their mean Boone indicator over the entire period from 2001 to 2018, we can track and compare the change in the Boone indicator for industries. The Boone indicator takes a value between negative infinity (-∞) and 1. In more competitive industries, we expect the Boone indicator to approach negative infinity. As it increases towards 1, the Boone indicator shows weaker competitive intensity.
Figure G1 shows the change in the Boone indicator for industries grouped by their mean Boone indicator over the whole sample. We group industries into 4 quartiles (top 25%, middle 50% to 75%, middle 25% to 50%, and bottom 25%) and two additional groupings for the top and bottom 10%.
We are especially interested in looking at how the Boone indicator has evolved in industries that have a lower degree of competitive intensity. In Figure G1 we can observe an overall increase in the Boone indicator for the industries that already have higher Boone indicator values (and therefore, the lowest competitive intensity). In Table G1, we see that this is true for the top 75% of industries, ranked by the Boone indicator, and within that group, the increase is highest for the top 25% and top 10% of industries.
Description of Figure G1
Figure G1: Average annual Boone indicator from 2001 to 2018 for industries that are grouped by average Boone indicator Year Top 10% Top 25% Mid 50-75% Mid 25-50% Bottom 25% Bottom 10% 2001 -0.286 -0.576 -0.937 -1.412 -1.853 -2.163 2002 -0.193 -0.550 -0.891 -1.315 -1.795 -1.920 2003 -0.150 -0.510 -0.897 -1.327 -1.893 -2.131 2004 -0.139 -0.561 -0.877 -1.190 -1.859 -2.249 2005 -0.031 -0.454 -0.891 -1.190 -1.861 -2.274 2006 -0.059 -0.448 -0.871 -1.211 -1.905 -2.379 2007 -0.059 -0.426 -0.873 -1.075 -1.901 -2.294 2008 -0.155 -0.372 -0.881 -1.175 -1.943 -2.359 2009 -0.094 -0.344 -0.896 -1.172 -1.878 -2.132 2010 -0.065 -0.302 -0.870 -1.236 -1.975 -2.304 2011 0.016 -0.303 -0.838 -1.256 -1.844 -2.121 2012 -0.014 -0.338 -0.839 -1.218 -1.778 -2.025 2013 0.013 -0.306 -0.868 -1.171 -1.722 -1.988 2014 0.052 -0.280 -0.845 -1.152 -1.838 -2.166 2015 0.102 -0.240 -0.818 -1.173 -1.833 -2.001 2016 0.117 -0.253 -0.850 -1.119 -1.850 -1.969 2017 0.060 -0.260 -0.821 -1.143 -1.955 -2.220 2018 0.083 -0.266 -0.795 -1.138 -2.055 -2.282
|Group||Boone Indicator in 2001||Boone Indicator in 2018||Change in Boone Indicator (Percent)|
To further verify that the Boone indicator has increased in general, we assessed the industry level time-trend in the Boone indicator from 2001 to 2018Footnote 4. We found that 41% of industries (33% revenue share) saw a meaningful increase in the Boone indicator between 2001 and 2018.
|Trend Direction||Number of Industries||Percentage of Industries||Share of All Industry Revenues|
|Although only 41% of industries have an increasing trend coefficient, we see that the overall increase is largely driven by industries in the top 25%.|
|Increase in Boone indicator||43||41.0%||33.3%|
|Decrease in Boone indicator||22||21.0%||24.7%|
|No meaningful change||27||25.7%||22.2%|
|Could not measure trendFootnote 5||13||12.4%||19.8%|
A potential caveat with our calculation of the Boone indicator is that yearly efficiency gains may not immediately translate into profits (for example due to firms re-investing in innovation), and thus the trend in the Boone indicator may not reflect changes in competition right away. In other words, the Boone indicator should be assessed over a longer period to better reflect the underlying trends in competition. As a robustness check, we also run different models in which we pool yearly data into 3-year and 5-year periods and calculate the Boone indicator based on these extended intervals instead of a single year only. The results remain qualitatively the same, supporting our results that the Boone indicator has increased over time and suggesting a decline in competitive intensity.