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Business Cycles and Investment in Productivity-Enhancing Activities: Evidence from Spanish Firms

Paloma Lopez-Garcia (), José Manuel Montero and Enrique Moral-Benito ()

Industry and Innovation, 2013, vol. 20, issue 7, 611-636

Abstract: This paper tests the opportunity-cost theory on the long-run effects of business cycles using a panel of Spanish firms during the period 1991--2010. Under this theory, the share of productivity-enhancing activities (PEAs), such as R&D investment or on-the-job training, relative to production activities should increase during downturns because of the fall in their relative cost -- in terms of forgone output. This would imply that business cycles may have a (positive) long-term impact on firms' productivity growth. In the spirit of Aghion et al. (2008), we allow the impact of the cycle on PEA to vary between firms with different access to external funding. We find that, in accordance with the opportunity-cost approach, the share of R&D investment and training expenditures on total investment outlays follow a countercyclical pattern, which in the case of R&D may be reversed by the presence of credit constraints. However, the share of investment in other non-R&D-related intangible investments is found to be acyclical, which could suggest some kind of substitution across different PEAs over the cycle.

Date: 2013
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