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Industry Concentration and Profitability in Europe: The Case of Norway

Lars Stemland Eide, Jonas Erraia and Gjermund Grimsby ORCID logo

Abstract

Several recent studies show that market concentration in the US has increased over time, with firm profits increasing in the same period. The consistency of findings from the US is contrasted by more varying results from studies of the development of market concentration in Europe. In this study, we utilise the completeness of Norwegian microdata to investigate how methodological choices and data limitations impact results with respect to the market concentration and its relationship with profitability. First, we find that concentration in Norway has decreased slightly over the last two decades. Over the same period, profitability has increased slightly for two profitability measures and been stable for the other two. Despite a difference in overall trends, at the industry level, we find a positive and statistically significant relationship between concentration and profitability for three out of four profitability measures, in line with the market power hypothesis. Investigating the effect of methodological choices and data limitations, we find that concentration trends are quite robust to exclusion of smaller companies, the incorporation of ownership structures in concentration measures and the choice of industry classification. However, the positive relationship between concentration and profitability is almost non-existent when using readily available industry classification instead of more product market-oriented industry classifications and disappears completely when we do not exclude export-oriented industries. Our study is relevant for future research, as well as for policymakers, as our results indicate that one should be careful when interpreting results from studies of market concentration that fail to handle these methodological challenges.

JEL classification: L11; L16

Corresponding author: Lars Stemland Eide, Menon Economics, Oslo, Norway, E-mail:

Appendix

Appendix A: Industry Definitions

Table 10 provides an overview of the industries that form the basis for the industry concentrations presented in the report. The table shows which NACE codes are included in the various industries, the size of the industry and whether the industry is categorised as export or noise.

Table 10:

Overview of the industry classification used in the paper.

IndustryNACE codeAdded value 2018 in MNOKCount 2018ExportNoiseReason
Wholesale trade of other461, 4642, 46110, 46120, 46140, 46150, 46180, 46190, 46441, 46442, 46450, 46460, 46472, 46473, 46481, 46482, 46491, 46492, 46494, 46495, 46499, 46640, 46650, 46660,46691, 46693, 46694, 46710, 46720, 46733, 46739, 46740, 46750, 46769, 46900, 46389, 4639059,00489901Imprecise market
Other information technology and computer service activities62090, 631103123561
Landscape service activities813001900495
Other boat transport50109, 50300444268
Pharmacy47730, 47740, 47917, 477306642359
Architectural activities7111, 7410363471927
Logging2200943289
Banking and credit granting64190, 64920104,702204
Nursery school88911, 8891218,57718021Regulated/subsidised
Processing of tea and coffee10830, 46370782124
Processing and preserving of fish10201, 10202, 10203, 1020981675331
Other processing and preserving of fruit and vegetables1039066451
Processing and preserving of meat10110, 101205734157
Processing and preserving of potatoes1031057417
Machining/forging/pressing/stamping/roll-forming of metal25500, 25610, 256205072940
Business consultancy activities69203, 7022012,72511,466
Funeral and related activities96030739275
Book store47610, 479151119196
House building cooperative411011384551Imprecise market
Wired telecommunications activities611008359233
Mining and extraction of mainland resources05, 07, 0850105671
Other retail sale in specialised stores47722, 47789, 47791, 47890, 47799, 47911, 47919, 47990316929331Imprecise market
Retail sale of electrical or technical equipment47540, 47592, 47781, 47914, 47916, 47410, 47420, 474304792948
Retail sale of non-durable consumer goods47190, 47593, 47599, 47620, 47750, 47810, 47913, 47630, 472869520841Imprecise market
Retail sale of clothing and shoes in specialised stores47710, 47721, 47792, 47820, 4791210,4133190
Retail sale of flowers, plants, seeds and fertilisers in specialised stores477612160683
Retail sale of pleasure boats and equipment in specialised stores47642723311
Retail sale of hardware, paints and glass in specialised stores475266971193
Retail sale of musical instruments and scores in specialised stores4759410388
Retail sale of furniture in specialised stores475914018615
Retail sale of games and toys in specialised stores47650492246
Retail sale of textiles in specialised stores47510, 47531429469
Civil engineering activities7112118,1292852
Civil engineering4227,673888
Building and wholesale of pleasure and sporting boats30120, 464936132451
Retail sale in non-specialised stores with food, beverages or tobacco predominating4711125,56829621Franchise
Steam and air conditioning supply3530026321711Regulated/subsidised
Distribution of electricity35120, 3513018,4071481Regulated/subsidised
Motion picture, video and television programme distribution activities5913011647
Distribution of gas35220204111
Accommodation5513,0332452
Food and beverage service activities5623,29774811Franchise
Toll gate stations5221392161Regulated/subsidised
Central agencies for goods and transportation procurement52211986114
Operation of harbours of plants52221, 52240, 52291, 5222345327351Imprecise market
Operation of car parks and garages522129852161Regulated/subsidised
Retail sale of automotive fuel in specialised stores47300400910261Franchise
Taxi operation49320, 522141204354
Retail sale of pet animals and pet food in specialised stores47762320227
Animal husbandry01410, 01420, 01451, 01460, 01471, 01479, 01500, 01620, 462302163559
Buildings and landscape activities68201, 6832010,62511,9771Imprecise market
Real estate agencies6831072311217
Wholesale of electrical and technical equipment4643, 46510, 46520891214261Imprecise market
Wholesale of grain, unmanufactured tobacco, seeds and animal feeds4621021511041Imprecise market
Wholesale of tobacco products4635089816
Finishing/preparation of textiles13100, 1330020455
Scheduled long distance passenger transport in coastal waters501027480120
Passenger ocean transport501013684281
Other financial service activities64110, 64201, 64202, 64302, 64303, 64304, 64305, 64309, 64910, 64990, 66110, 66190, 6630016,46519,1021Holding companies - ownership
Removal services494202141251Imprecise market
Folk high school education85591775541Non-commercial
Book publishing581101479391
Other publishing activities58120, 581901982061Imprecise market
Activities of insurance agents and brokers6622025003491Imprecise market
Other insurance activities66210, 662901166271
Reseach on biotechnology, natural sciences and engineering72190, 72110577410031Non-commercial
Research and experimental development on social sciences and humanities7220011941151Non-commercial
Supply and other sea transport offshore services5020410,1522851
Computer facilities management activities62030, 6312010,486827
Photographic activities74200378650
Hairdressing and other beauty treatment9602047342944
Horticulture and wholesale of fruits and vegetables011, 012, 01300, 01610, 46310, 462204656968
Geological surveying7112273193241
Domestic freight transport49200, 49410, 50202, 50400, 5121021,2884288
Trade of electricity351403939155
Trade of gas through mains35230−161
Wholesale and retail trade and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles45, 46610, 4662040,5367686
Activities of collection agencies and credit bureaus829103156155
Waste collection, treatment and disposal activities, materials recovery etc.38, 39, 4677097816781Regulated/subsidised
Installation of industrial machinery and equipment332003588711
Legal activities6910011,7682478
Cold drawing/cold rolling24320, 24330, 23340, 24310, 243404371
Motion picture projection activities59140492381Regulated/subsidised
Retail sale in non-specialised kiosks with food, beverages or tobacco predominating471128664401Franchise
Public transport49100, 49311, 49312, 4939116,102971Regulated/subsidised
Organisation of conventions and trade shows82300749227
Impresario activities74903440347
Computer consultancy activities6202023,8434133
Physical well-being activities96040324553
Warehousing and storage521001002136
Life insurance65110, 653003861121
Gambling and betting activities9265461731Regulated/subsidised
Passenger air transport511003050871
Market research and public opinion polling7320073790
Wireless telecommunications activities6120019,278111
Public services84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 9159,84011,8411Regulated/subsidised
Trade of real estate68209, 6810097,11560,8561Imprecise market
Construction of residential and non-residential buildings4120048,92711,052
Adventure services93210, 93292, 932911125582
Retail sale of optical goods in specialised stores477822232484
Translation and interpretation activities74300388180
Public relations and communication activities702101299433
Postal and courier activities538861435
Private security activities801003227177
Manufacture of alternative means of transport30300, 30920, 309901338271
Other manufacturing3228106461
Manufacture of construction materials23510, 23520, 23610, 23620, 23630, 23640, 23650, 23690, 23700, 23320, 2399097804601
Production of electricity35111, 35112, 35113, 35114, 3511945,8531061
Motion picture and television programme production activities59110, 5912018531377
Operation of fish farms03111, 03120, 03211, 03212, 03221, 03222, 46381, 0321351,01035881
Manufacture of animal feeds10910, 109203093831
Manufacture of ice cream1052090626
Manufacture of machinery and equipment n.e.c.2818,2588821
Manufacture of metals24101, 24102, 24200, 24410, 24421, 24422, 24430, 24450, 2444016,206781
Manufacture of metal products25110, 25120, 25210, 25290, 25300, 25400, 25710, 25720, 25730,25930, 25940, 25990, 25910, 2592011,2169131
Manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers2923521371
Manufacture of glass/ceramics products23110, 23120, 23130, 23140, 23190, 23410, 23420, 23430, 23440, 2349015561211
Manufacture of rubber and plastic products2236303811
Manufacture of technical equipment or associated26, 2714,3016791
Production of various chemical/biological products19, 20, 2128,6383381
Manufacture and wholesale of other alcoholic beverages11010, 11020, 11030, 11040, 4634111284781
Manufacture and wholesale of cocoa, chocolate and sugar confectionery10820, 46360141696
Production and wholesale of meat10130, 463204485237
Production and wholesale of dairy products10510, 46330667495
Manufacture of beer and soft drinks; production of mineral waters and other bottled waters11070,10320, 46349, 11050, 110604017426
Manufacture and wholesale of furniture31, 4647142637711
Production and sale of paper products17, 4676133171721
Manufacture and trade of textile/apparel13200, 13921, 13929, 13940, 13950, 13960, 13990, 46160, 46240, 14, 15, 46416,86935611
Production and sale of wood products16, 46130, 46731, 4673212,16014461
Manufacture and installation work off/on oil-platforms30113, 30116, 4663015,717803
Manufacture and installation work off/on ships and boats30111, 30112, 30114, 30115, 33150, 4669286319871
Sound recording and music publishing activities59200992416
Manufacture of other food products104, 106, 107, 10810, 10840, 10850, 10860, 1089077778881Imprecise market
Manufacture of gas35210−14191
Accounting and bookkeeping6920111,8983943
Travel agency activities and tour operators79110, 79120, 79938442114
Advertisement73110, 7312058152146
Employment activities7828,2152085
General cleaning of buildings8121011,0501193
Repair of electrical equipment33140342531Imprecise marked
Repair of electronic and optical equipment3313036301Imprecise market
Repair of machinery and fabricated metal products33110, 3312060549091
Repair and maintenance of other transport and equipment33160, 33170, 331902655107
Auditing692029799800
Satellite telecommunications activities61300182117
Disinfecting and exterminating activities8129171638
Non-life insurance65120535973
Ship brokerage services5229224924401
Forestry02100, 024009424441
Tugs and sea rescue services50203, 522221336641Non-commercial
Retail sale of sporting equipment in specialised stores476413180953
Casting24510, 24520, 24530, 24540525381
Programming and broadcasting activities605922108
Dental practise activities8623046721737
Inbound and outbound call centres82201, 822021551165
Other telecommunications activities619006062031Imprecise market
Other services70100, 71129, 71200, 74101, 74102, 74901, 74902, 74909, 77310, 77330, 77340, 77350, 77390, 77400, 78300,80300, 81109, 81220, 81299, 82110, 82190, 82920, 82990, 93110, 93120, 93190, 93299, 96090, 97000, 99000, 63990, 64201, 64306, 64308, 90, 94, 9592,14326,9791Imprecise market
Mining support service activities939,9145561
Services related to printing18130, 18140431159
Security systems service activities802003942125
Driving school activities855301820726
Other transport49500, 49393, 51220, 52215, 52219, 52229, 52230, 52293, 5229922,2525001Imprecise market
Fitness facilities931302255801
Printing18120, 181103018488
Charters and excursions bus services493921194319
Horologist and jeweller47771, 47772, 95250853464
Freight ocean transport5020122,30815321
Publishing of newspapers and journals58130, 58140, 6391087326811Imprecise market
Software publishing58211,6887091
Renting of means of transport77110, 771203688486
Renting and leasing of construction and civil engineering machinery and equipment773204484733
Water collection, treatment, supply and sewerage36, 3715593851Public service
Computer programming activities6201014,13949001
Extraction of crude petroleum and natural gas6526,3661471
Caretaker services811012458847
Washing and (dry-)cleaning of textile and Fur products960101850171
Unit trust64301−58774091Noise
Security and commodity contracts brokerage66120458180
Veterinary activities751475509
Specialised construction activities4390,32818,445

Appendix B: Robustness Tests

Table 11:

Main specification with control variable in non-logs.

Dependent variable:
EBITDA marginEBIT marginROAMark up
(1)(2)(3)(4)
CG HHI (×100k)0.876***0.604***0.0891.872***
(0.154)(0.152)(0.165)(0.301)
Industry fixed effectsYesYesYesYes
Time fixed effectsYesYesYesYes
Observations1896189618961896
R20.1060.0880.00020.219
F statistic (df = 2; 1776)104.843***85.593***0.171248.456***

  1. *p < 0.1; **p < 0.05; ***p < 0.01.

Table 12:

Regression results without controls.

Dependent variable:
EBITDA marginEBIT marginROAMark up
(1)(2)(3)(4)
CG HHI (×100k)0.943***0.665***0.0882.082***
(0.161)(0.158)(0.165)(0.337)
Industry fixed effectsYesYesYesYes
Time fixed effectsNoNoNoNo
Observations1896189618961896
R20.0190.0100.00020.021
F statistic (df = 1; 1777)34.140***17.691***0.28638.139***

  1. *p < 0.1; **p < 0.05; ***p < 0.01.

Table 13:

Regression results with the logarithm of revenue as control variable.

Dependent variable:
EBITDA marginEBIT marginROAMark up
(1)(2)(3)(4)
CG HHI (×100k)0.963***0.669***0.1042.146***
(0.162)(0.159)(0.165)(0.339)
Industry fixed effectsYesYesYesYes
Time fixed effectsYesYesYesYes
Observations1896189618961896
R20.0200.0100.0010.023
F statistic (df = 2; 1776)17.810***8.867***0.58420.719***

  1. *p < 0.1; **p < 0.05; ***p < 0.01.

Table 14:

Main specification with logarithm of corporate group-adjusted HHI.

Dependent variable:
EBITDA marginEBIT marginROAMark up
(1)(2)(3)(4)
CG HHI (×100k)0.4130.2710.2671.080**
(0.264)(0.260)(0.267)(0.550)
logHHI0.013***0.0092*−0.00660.027***
(0.00489)(0.0048)(0.0049)(0.010)
Industry fixed effectsYesYesYesYes
Time fixed effectsYesYesYesYes
Observations1896189618961896
R20.0260.0120.0250.036
F statistic (df = 3; 1775)15.942***7.148***15.066***22.157***

  1. *p < 0.1; **p < 0.05; ***p < 0.01.

Table 15:

Main specification excluding companies with revenue less than NOK 50 m.

Dependent variable:
EBITDA marginEBIT marginROAMark up
(1)(2)(3)(4)
CG HHI (×100k)0.538***0.278**−0.2181.382***
(0.120)(0.118)(0.138)(0.261)
Industry fixed effectsYesYesYesYes
Time fixed effectsYesYesYesYes
Observations1821182118211821
R20.0650.0300.0020.065
F statistic (df = 2; 1701)59.102***26.372***1.70459.210***

  1. *p < 0.1; **p < 0.05; ***p < 0.01.

Table 16:

Main specification excluding companies with revenue less than NOK 100 m.

Dependent variable:
EBITDA marginEBIT marginROAMark up
(1)(2)(3)(4)
CG HHI (×100k)0.586***0.409***−0.363***1.528***
(0.120)(0.116)(0.132)(0.338)
Industry fixed effectsYesYesYesYes
Time fixed effectsYesYesYesYes
Observations1740174017401740
R20.0940.0430.0050.070
F statistic (df = 2; 1622)83.755***36.274***3.915**61.295***

  1. *p < 0.1; **p < 0.05; ***p < 0.01.

Table 17:

Main specification excluding companies with revenue less than NOK 500 m.

Dependent variable:
EBITDA marginEBIT marginROAMark up
(1)(2)(3)(4)
CG HHI (×100k)1.036***0.771***0.313**−16.332**
(0.141)(0.147)(0.142)(7.083)
Industry fixed effectsYesYesYesYes
Time fixed effectsYesYesYesYes
Observations1172117211721172
R20.0600.0290.0260.038
F statistic (df = 2; 1072)34.051***16.081***14.498***21.133***

  1. *p < 0.1; **p < 0.05; ***p < 0.01.

Table 18:

Main specification excluding companies with revenue less than NOK 1000 m.

Dependent variable:
EBITDA marginEBIT marginROAMark up
(1)(2)(3)(4)
CG HHI (×100k)0.381**0.300*−0.0461.657
(0.156)(0.157)(0.152)(1.326)
Industry fixed effectsYesYesYesYes
Time fixed effectsYesYesYesYes
Observations856856856856
R20.0380.0180.0030.002
F statistic (df = 2; 773)15.314***7.063***1.1650.709

  1. *p < 0.1; **p < 0.05; ***p < 0.01.

Table 19:

Main specification with squared corporate group-adjusted HHI.

Dependent variable:
EBITDA marginEBIT marginROAMark tip
(1)(2)(3)(4)
CG HHI (×10k)2.551***1.831***0.2815.168***
(0.353)(0.348)(0.359)(0.736)
HHI-squared−0.0002***−0.0002***−0.00004−0.0004***
(0.00004)(0.00004)(0.00004)(0.0001)
Industry fixed effectsYesYesYesYes
Time fixed effectsYesYesYesYes
Observations1896189618961896
R20.0360.0180.0240.043
F statistic (df = 3; 1775)21.911***10.662***14.746***26.657***

  1. *p < 0.1; **p < 0.05; ***p < 0.01.

Table 20:

Including minority ownership HHI delta as a separate variable.

Dependent variable:
EBITDA marginEBIT marginROAMark up
(1)(2)(3)(4)
CG HHI (×100k)0.996***0.673***−0.0202.248***
(0.162)(0.159)(0.164)(0.337)
MHHI−0.712**−0.2790.094−0.719
(0.331)(0.325)(0.334)(0.688)
Industry fixed effectsYesYesYesYes
Time fixed effectsYesYesYesYes
Observations1896189618961896
R20.0250.0100.0240.033
F statistic (df = 3; 1775)14.999***6.146***14.473***20.116***

  1. *p < 0.1; **p < 0.05; ***p < 0.01.

Table 21:

Additional information on changes in HHI for the sectors presented in Figure 2.

Share of industries with increaseAverage increaseMedian increaseNumber of industries in sector
Manufacturing1.00413344
Financial services0.60166415
Real estate and construction0.6018145
Wholesale0.53–1025717
Agriculture and food production0.50318–11312
Information0.50–490–18212
Utilities0.502352352
Other services0.29–953–9937
Transport0.25–636–2258
Professional services0.23–489–50126

Figure 9: The development of HHI from 2000 to 2018 for the SN2 industry classification, including baseline results for comparison.

Figure 9:

The development of HHI from 2000 to 2018 for the SN2 industry classification, including baseline results for comparison.

Figure 10: The development of CG-adjusted HHI from 2000 to 2018 when only including companies with revenue over 50 MNOK, including baseline results for comparison.

Figure 10:

The development of CG-adjusted HHI from 2000 to 2018 when only including companies with revenue over 50 MNOK, including baseline results for comparison.

Figure 11: The development of CG-adjusted HHI from 2000 to 2018 when only including companies with revenue over 100 MNOK, including baseline results for comparison.

Figure 11:

The development of CG-adjusted HHI from 2000 to 2018 when only including companies with revenue over 100 MNOK, including baseline results for comparison.

Figure 12: The development of CG-adjusted HHI from 2000 to 2018 when only including companies with revenue over 500 MNOK, including baseline results for comparison.

Figure 12:

The development of CG-adjusted HHI from 2000 to 2018 when only including companies with revenue over 500 MNOK, including baseline results for comparison.

Figure 13: The development of CG-adjusted HHI from 2000 to 2018 when only including companies with revenue over 1000 MNOK, including baseline results for comparison.

Figure 13:

The development of CG-adjusted HHI from 2000 to 2018 when only including companies with revenue over 1000 MNOK, including baseline results for comparison.

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Article Note

This article is part of the special issue “Market Power and Concentration Developments: Evidence and Implications for Germany and Europe” published in the Journal of Economics and Statistics. Access to further articles of this special issue can be obtained at www.degruyter.com/jbnst.

Received: 2020-09-21
Accepted: 2021-08-11
Published Online: 2021-10-13

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston