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Survival of the Best Fit: Exposure to Low-Wage Countries and the (Uneven) Growth of U.S. Manufacturing Plants

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  • J. Bradford Jensen
  • Andrew Bernard
  • Peter Schott

Abstract

This paper examines the role of international trade in the reallocation of U.S. manufacturing within and across industries from 1977 to 1997. Motivated by the factor proportions framework, we introduce a new measure of industry exposure to international trade that focuses on where imports originate rather than on their overall level. We find that plant survival and growth are negatively associated with industry exposure to low-wage country imports. Within industries, we show that manufacturing activity is disproportionately reallocated towards capital-intensive plants. Finally, we provide the first evidence that firms adjust their product mix in response to trade pressures. Plants are more likely to switch industries when exposure to low-wage countries is high.

Suggested Citation

  • J. Bradford Jensen & Andrew Bernard & Peter Schott, 2005. "Survival of the Best Fit: Exposure to Low-Wage Countries and the (Uneven) Growth of U.S. Manufacturing Plants," Working Papers 05-19, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:05-19
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Low-Wage Country Import Competition; Manufacturing Plant; Comparative Advantage;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F11 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Neoclassical Models of Trade
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance
    • L60 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - General

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