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Factor Intensity, product switching, and productivity: Evidence from Chinese exporters

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  • Ma, Yue
  • Tang, Heiwai
  • Zhang, Yifan

Abstract

This paper analyzes how a firm's specialization in its core products after exporting affects its factor intensity and productivity. Using Chinese manufacturing firm data for the 1998–2007 period, we find that firms become less capital-intensive but more productive after exporting, compared to non-exporters that share similar ex ante characteristics. To rationalize these findings that contrast with existing studies, we develop a variant of the model by Bernard, Redding, and Schott (2010, 2011) to consider firms producing multiple products with varying capital intensity. The model predicts that when a firm in a labor-abundant country starts exporting, it specializes in its core competencies by allocating more resources to produce more labor-intensive products. Firm ex ante productivity is associated with a smaller decline in capital intensity after exporting. A sharper post-export decline in capital intensity is associated with a larger increase in measured total factor productivity. We find firm-level evidence supporting these predictions. Using transaction-level data for the 2000–2006 period, we show that Chinese new exporters add products that are less capital-intensive than their existing products and drop those that are more capital-intensive in subsequent years.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of International Economics.

Volume (Year): 92 (2014)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 349-362

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Handle: RePEc:eee:inecon:v:92:y:2014:i:2:p:349-362

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505552

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Keywords: Exporters; Productivity; Factor intensity; Multi-product firms;

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References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Fabrice Defever & Alejandro Riaño, . "China's Pure Exporter Subsidies," Discussion Papers 12/11, University of Nottingham, GEP.
  2. Ling Feng & Zhiyuan Li & Deborah L. Swenson, 2012. "The Connection between Imported Intermediate Inputs and Exports: Evidence from Chinese Firms," NBER Working Papers 18260, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. WAKASUGI Ryuhei & Hongyong ZHANG, 2012. "Effects of Ownership on Exports and FDI: Evidence from Chinese firms," Discussion papers 12058, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
  4. Wenya Cheng & John Morrow & Kitjawat Tacharoen, 2013. "Productivity as if Space Mattered: An Application to Factor Markets Across China," CESifo Working Paper Series 4494, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Vivian Yue & Jiandong Ju, 2013. "A Unified Model of Structural Adjustments and International Trade: Theory and Evidence from China," 2013 Meeting Papers 859, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  6. ITO Banri & XU Zhaoyuan & YASHIRO Naomitsu, 2013. "Does Agglomeration Promote the Internationalization of Chinese Firms?," Discussion papers 13081, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).

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