Death in the Industrial World: Plant Closures and Capital Retirement - ARCHIVED

Articles and reports: 11F0027M2005033


Plant deaths arise from failure when firms exit an industry. Plant deaths are also associated with renewal when incumbent firms close down plants and modernize their production facilities and start-up new plants.

The rate of plant deaths affects the amount of change that occurs in labour and capital markets. Plant deaths result in job losses and incur significant human costs as employees are forced to seek other work. The death process also gives rise to capital losses - to the loss of earlier investments that the industrial system had made in productive capacity. This paper makes use of the plant-death date to provide new information on the likely length of life of capital invested in plants.

This paper measures the death rate over a forty year period for new plants in the Canadian manufacturing sector. It develops a profile of the death rate for entrants as they age. On average, 14% of new plants die in their first year. Over half of new plants die by the age of six. By the age of 15, less than 20% are still alive.

As a result, manufacturing plants have relatively short lives. The average new plant lives only nine years (17 years if the average is employment-weighted). These rates vary by industry. The longest length of life (13 years) can be found in two industries -primary metals and paper and allied products. The shortest average length of life (less than 8 years) occurs in wood industries.

Issue Number: 2005033
Author(s): Baldwin, John
FormatRelease dateMore information
PDFMay 4, 2005