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Exports and Profitability: First Evidence for German Manufacturing Firms

  • Helmut Fryges
  • Joachim Wagner

Abstract Using unique recently released nationally representative high-quality longitudinal enterprise-level data for Germany, this paper presents the first comprehensive evidence on the relationship between exports and profitability. It documents that the positive profitability differential of exporters compared to non-exporters is statistically significant, though rather small, when observed firm characteristics and unobserved firm-specific effects are controlled for. In contrast to nearly all empirical studies on the relationship between productivity and exports we do not find any evidence for self-selection of more profitable firms into export markets. Due to the sampling frame of the data used we cannot test the hypothesis that firms which start exporting perform better in the years after the start than their counterparts which do not start. Instead, we use a newly developed continuous treatment approach and show that exporting improves the profitability almost over the whole range of the export-sales ratio. Only firms that generate 90 per cent and more of their total sales abroad do not benefit from exporting in terms of an increased rate of profit. This means that the usually observed higher productivity of exporters is not completely absorbed by the extra costs of exporting or by higher wages paid by internationally active firms. Copyright 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal World Economy.

Volume (Year): 33 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (03)
Pages: 399-423

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Handle: RePEc:bla:worlde:v:33:y:2010:i:3:p:399-423
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  1. Lionel Nesta & Flora Bellone & Patrick Musso & Liza Jabbour & Stefano Schiavo, 2007. "Exports and productivity : comparable evidence for 14 countries," Sciences Po publications 2007-36, Sciences Po.
  2. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Stephen J. Redding & Peter K. Schott, 2007. "Firms in International Trade," NBER Working Papers 13054, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Foster, Lucia & Haltiwanger, John C. & Syverson, Chad, 2005. "Reallocation, Firm Turnover, and Efficiency: Selection on Productivity or Profitability?," IZA Discussion Papers 1705, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Joachim Wagner, 2007. "Exports and Productivity: A Survey of the Evidence from Firm-level Data," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 30(1), pages 60-82, 01.
  5. Papke, Leslie E & Wooldridge, Jeffrey M, 1996. "Econometric Methods for Fractional Response Variables with an Application to 401(K) Plan Participation Rates," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(6), pages 619-32, Nov.-Dec..
  6. Thorsten Schank & Claus Schnabel & Joachim Wagner, 2006. "Do exporters really pay higher wages? First evidence from German linked employer-employee data," Working Paper Series in Economics 28, University of Lüneburg, Institute of Economics.
  7. International Study Group on Exports and Productivity (ISGEP), 2008. "Understanding Cross-Country Differences in Exporter Premia: Comparable Evidence for 14 Countries," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 144(4), pages 596-635, December.
  8. Helmut Fryges & Joachim Wagner, 2007. "Exports and Productivity Growth - First Evidence from a Continuous Treatment Approach," Jena Economic Research Papers 2007-063, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.
  9. Schmalensee, Richard, 1989. "Inter-industry studies of structure and performance," Handbook of Industrial Organization, in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 16, pages 951-1009 Elsevier.
  10. Joachim Wagner, 2003. "Unobserved firm heterogeneity and the size-exports nexus: Evidence from German panel data," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 139(1), pages 161-172, March.
  11. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/10147 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Thierry Mayer & Gianmarco Ottaviano, 2008. "The Happy Few: The Internationalisation of European Firms," Intereconomics: Review of European Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 43(3), pages 135-148, May.
  13. Thierry Mayer & Gianmarco Ottaviano, 2007. "The happy few: the internationalisation of European firms New facts based on firm-level evidence," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/10147, Sciences Po.
  14. Hennart, J.M.A., 2007. "The theoretical rationale for a multinationality - performance relationship," Other publications TiSEM b4c7bdd4-bfda-467f-9886-3, School of Economics and Management.
  15. repec:ner:tilbur:urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-284201 is not listed on IDEAS
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