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Exports, Borders, Distance, and Plant Size

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  • Thomas J. Holmes
  • John J. Stevens

Abstract

The fact that large manufacturing plants export relatively more than small plants has been at the foundation of much work in the international trade literature. We examine this fact using Census micro data on plant shipments from the Commodity Flow Survey. We show the fact is not entirely an international trade phenomenon; part of it can be accounted for by the effect of distance, distinct from any border effect. Export destinations tend to be further than domestic destinations, and large plants tend to ship further distances even to domestic locations, as compared with small plants. We develop an extension of the Melitz (2003) model and use it to set up an analysis with model interpretations of ratios between large plant and small plant shipments that can be calculated with the data. We obtain a decomposition of the overall ratio into a term that varies with distance, holding fixed the border, and a term that varies with the border, holding fixed the distance. The distance term accounts for more than half of the overall difference.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16046.

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Date of creation: Jun 2010
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Publication status: published as Holmes, Thomas J. & Stevens, John J., 2012. "Exports, borders, distance, and plant size," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 91-103.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16046

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  1. Costas Arkolakis, 2010. "Market Penetration Costs and the New Consumers Margin in International Trade," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(6), pages 1151 - 1199.
  2. Thomas J. Holmes & John J. Stevens, 2010. "An alternative theory of the plant size distribution with an application to trade," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2010-30, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  3. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Stephen Redding & Peter K. Schott, 2007. "Firms in International Trade," CEP Discussion Papers dp0795, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  4. Russell Hillberry & David Hummels, 2003. "Intranational Home Bias: Some Explanations," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(4), pages 1089-1092, November.
  5. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2004. "Trade Costs," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(3), pages 691-751, September.
  6. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2000. "Gravity with Gravitas: A Solution to the Border Puzzle," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 485, Boston College Department of Economics.
  7. Russell Hillberry & David Hummels, 2005. "Trade Responses to Geographic Frictions: A Decomposition Using Micro-Data," NBER Working Papers 11339, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Richard Baldwin & James Harrigan, 2011. "Zeros, Quality, and Space: Trade Theory and Trade Evidence," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 60-88, May.
  9. Engel, Charles & Rogers, John H, 1996. "How Wide Is the Border?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(5), pages 1112-25, December.
  10. Andrew B. Bernard & Jonathan Eaton & J. Bradford Jenson & Samuel Kortum, 2000. "Plants and Productivity in International Trade," NBER Working Papers 7688, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Marc J. Melitz, 2003. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(6), pages 1695-1725, November.
  12. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Peter K. Schott, 2005. "Importers, Exporters, and Multinationals: A Portrait of Firms in the U.S. that Trade Goods," Working Paper Series WP05-10, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  13. Milgrom, P. & Shannon, C., 1991. "Monotone Comparative Statics," Papers 11, Stanford - Institute for Thoretical Economics.
  14. McCallum, John, 1995. "National Borders Matter: Canada-U.S. Regional Trade Patterns," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 615-23, June.
  15. Timothy Dunne & J. Bradford Jensen & Mark J. Roberts, 2009. "Producer Dynamics: New Evidence from Micro Data," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number dunn05-1, octubre-d.
  16. John F. Helliwell, 1996. "Do National Borders Matter for Quebec's Trade?," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 29(3), pages 507-22, August.
  17. Thomas J. Holmes & John J. Stevens, 2002. "Geographic Concentration and Establishment Scale," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(4), pages 682-690, November.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Large plants and distance to customers
    by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2010-09-10 14:07:00
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Cited by:
  1. Nobuaki Yamashita & Toshiyuki Matsuura & Kentaro Nakajima, 2013. "Agglomeration effects of inter-firm backward and forward linkages: evidence from Japanese manufacturing investment in China," Keio/Kyoto Joint Global COE Discussion Paper Series 2012-042, Keio/Kyoto Joint Global COE Program.
  2. Behrens, Kristian & Mion, Giordano & Murata, Yasusada & Suedekum, Jens, 2013. "Spatial Frictions," IZA Discussion Papers 7175, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00566431 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. A. Kerem Cosar & Paul L. E. Grieco & Felix Tintelnot, 2012. "Borders, Geography, and Oligopoly: Evidence from the Wind Turbine Industry," Koç University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum Working Papers 1228, Koc University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum.
  5. Asier Minondo, . "Exporters of services in Spain," Working Papers 2011R04, Basque Institute of Competitiveness.
  6. Hsieh, Chang-Tai & Klenow, Peter J., 2012. "The Life Cycle of Plants in India and Mexico," Working Papers 12-20, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  7. ZHELOBODKO, Evgeny & KOKOVIN, Sergey & Parenti, Mathieu & THISSE, Jacques-François, . "Monopolistic competition beyond the constant elasticity of substitution," CORE Discussion Papers RP -2488, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  8. Minondo, Asier, 2012. "Trading firms in the Spanish services sector," MPRA Paper 43224, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Dutz, Mark A., 2013. "Resource reallocation and innovation : converting enterprise risks into opportunities," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6534, The World Bank.

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