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Firms in International Trade: Importers' and Exporters' Heterogeneity in Italian Manufacturing Industry


  • Davide Castellani
  • Francesco Serti
  • Chiara Tomasi


Abstract Combining data on structural characteristics and economic performance for a large sample of Italian firms with data on exporting and importing activity, we uncover evidence supporting recent theories on firm heterogeneity and international trade, together with some new facts. In particular, we find that importing is associated with substantial firm heterogeneity. First, we document that trade is more concentrated than employment and sales, and show that importing is even more concentrated than exporting both within sectors and along the sector- and country-extensive margins. Second, while supporting the fact that firms involved in both are the best performers, we also find that firms involved only in importing activities perform better than those involved only in exporting. Our evidence suggests there is a strong self-selection effect in the case of importers and the performance premia of internationalised firms correlate relatively more with the degree of geographical and sectoral diversification of imports. Copyright 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Davide Castellani & Francesco Serti & Chiara Tomasi, 2010. "Firms in International Trade: Importers' and Exporters' Heterogeneity in Italian Manufacturing Industry," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(3), pages 424-457, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:worlde:v:33:y:2010:i:3:p:424-457

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Stephen J. Redding & Peter K. Schott, 2007. "Firms in International Trade," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(3), pages 105-130, Summer.
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    10. Thorsten Schank & Claus Schnabel & Joachim Wagner, 2016. "Do Exporters Really Pay Higher Wages? First Evidence from German Linked Employer–Employee Data," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: Microeconometrics of International Trade, chapter 5, pages 177-213 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    11. 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.
    12. Lucia Foster & John Haltiwanger & Chad Syverson, 2008. "Reallocation, Firm Turnover, and Efficiency: Selection on Productivity or Profitability?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(1), pages 394-425, March.
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