Small Is Transient: Housebuilding Firms in Ontario, Canada 1978-98
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The North American housebuilding industry has been neglected in urban and housing studies. Its firm size structure and instability have long been cause for concern, but have rarely been given more than anecdotal treatment. This paper examines the transience of housebuilders in Ontario from 1978 to 1998. Using a census of builders provided by the Ontario New Home Warranty Program, the industry's firm membership is found to be extremely transient. Most transience comes by way of new firm formation and permanent firm exits from the market, while a small cohort of builders withdraw from and re-enter the market on a regular basis. The business cycle speeds and slows these processes but flux is due primarily to the annual turnover of small builders. To reduce transience, policy makers must decide between slowing entry and perhaps raising industry concentration or allowing continued firm entry and probably transience.