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Plants and Productivity in International Trade

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  • Andrew B. Bernard
  • Jonathan Eaton
  • J. Bradford Jenson
  • Samuel Kortum

Abstract

We reconcile international trade theory with findings of enormous plant-level heterogeneity in exporting and productivity. Our model extends basic Ricardian theory to accommodate many countries, geographic barriers, and imperfect competition. Fitting the model to bilateral trade among the United States and its 46 major trade partners, we see how well it can explain basic facts about U.S. plants: (i) productivity dispersion, (ii) the productivity advantage of exporters, (iii) the small fraction who export, (iv) the small fraction of revenues from exporting among those that do, and (v) the much larger size of exporters. We pick up all these basic qualitative features, and go quite far in matching them quantitatively. We examine counterfactuals to assess the impact of various global shifts on productivity, plant entry and exit, and labor turnover in U.S. manufacturing.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7688.

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Date of creation: May 2000
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Publication status: published as Andrew B. Bernard & Jonathan Eaton & J. Bradford Jensen & Samuel Kortum, 2003. "Plants and Productivity in International Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1268-1290, September.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7688

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  1. Sofronis K. Clerides & Saul Lach & James R. Tybout, 1998. "Is Learning By Exporting Important? Micro-Dynamic Evidence From Colombia, Mexico, And Morocco," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(3), pages 903-947, August.
  2. Tor Jakob Klette & Zvi Griliches, 1994. "The Inconsistency of Common Scales Estimators when Output Prices are Unobserved and Endogenous," Discussion Papers 127, Research Department of Statistics Norway.
  3. Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1991. "Quality Ladders in the Theory of Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(1), pages 43-61, January.
  4. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2002. "Technology, Geography, and Trade," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(5), pages 1741-1779, September.
  5. Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1977. "Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(3), pages 297-308, June.
  6. Jose Campa & Linda S. Goldberg, 1993. "Investment in Manufacturing, Exchange-Rates and External Exposure," NBER Working Papers 4378, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Krugman, Paul R., 1979. "Increasing returns, monopolistic competition, and international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 469-479, November.
  8. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen, 1997. "Exceptional Exporter Performance: Cause, Effect, or Both?," NBER Working Papers 6272, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Linda Goldberg & Joseph Tracy, 2001. "Exchange rates and wages," Staff Reports 116, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  10. Dornbusch, Rudiger & Fischer, Stanley & Samuelson, Paul A, 1977. "Comparative Advantage, Trade, and Payments in a Ricardian Model with a Continuum of Goods," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(5), pages 823-39, December.
  11. Bee Yan Aw & Sukkyun Chung & Mark J. Roberts, 1998. "Productivity and the Decision to Export: Micro Evidence from Taiwan and South Korea," NBER Working Papers 6558, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen, 1999. "Exporting and Productivity," NBER Working Papers 7135, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Samuel S. Kortum, 1997. "Research, Patenting, and Technological Change," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(6), pages 1389-1420, November.
  14. Roberts, Mark J & Tybout, James R, 1997. "The Decision to Export in Colombia: An Empirical Model of Entry with Sunk Costs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(4), pages 545-64, September.
  15. Head, Keith & Ries, John, 1999. "Rationalization effects of tariff reductions," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 295-320, April.
  16. Eaton, Jonathan & Kortum, Samuel, 1999. "International Technology Diffusion: Theory and Measurement," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 40(3), pages 537-70, August.
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