Entry, Expansion, and Intensity in the U.S. Export Boom, 1987-1992
U.S. exports grew at a rate of 10.3% per year from 1987-1992, far faster than the economy as a whole and faster than in any other five year period since 1960. This paper examines the sources of the export boom considering the role of entry, firm expansion and export intensity. The preponderance of the increase in exports came from increasing export intensity at existing exporters rather than from new entry into exporting. The small role of entry relative to export intensity offers support for the importance of sunk costs in the export market. In addition, we consider competing explanations for the rise in exports using a comprehensive plant level data set. Changes in exchange rates and rises in foreign income were the dominant sources for the export increase, while productivity increases in U.S. plants played a relatively small role.
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