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What is Firm Heterogeneity in Trade Models? The Role of Quality, Scope, Markups, and Cost

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  • Hottman, Colin
  • Redding, Stephen J.
  • Weinstein, David E.

Abstract

We estimate a structural model of heterogeneous multiproduct firms to examine the sources of firm heterogeneity emphasized in the recent trade and macro literatures. Using Nielsen barcode data on prices and sales, we estimate elasticities of substitution within and between firms, and use the estimated model to recover unobserved qualities, marginal costs and markups. We find that variation in firm quality and product scope explains at least four fifths of the variation in firm sales. Most firms are well approximated by the monopolistic competition benchmark of constant markups, but the largest firms that account for most of aggregate sales depart substantially from this benchmark. Although the output of multiproduct firms is differentiated, cannibalization is quantitatively important for the largest firms. This imperfect substitutability of products within firms, and the fact that larger firms supply more products than smaller firms, implies that standard productivity measures are not independent of demand system assumptions and probably dramatically understate the relative productivity of the largest firms.

Suggested Citation

  • Hottman, Colin & Redding, Stephen J. & Weinstein, David E., 2014. "What is Firm Heterogeneity in Trade Models? The Role of Quality, Scope, Markups, and Cost," CEPR Discussion Papers 10133, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:10133
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Feenstra, Robert C., 2018. "Restoring the product variety and pro-competitive gains from trade with heterogeneous firms and bounded productivity," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 16-27.
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    11. Judith A. Chevalier & Anil K. Kashyap & Peter E. Rossi, 2003. "Why Don't Prices Rise During Periods of Peak Demand? Evidence from Scanner Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 15-37, March.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Berlingieri, Giuseppe & Breinlich, Holger & Dhingra, Swati, 2016. "The Impact of Trade Agreements on Consumer Welfare," CEPR Discussion Papers 11148, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Simon Gilchrist & Raphael Schoenle & Jae Sim & Egon Zakrajšek, 2017. "Inflation Dynamics during the Financial Crisis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(3), pages 785-823, March.
    3. Peter M. Morrow & Daniel Trefler, 2017. "Endowments, Skill-Biased Technology, and Factor Prices: A Unified Approach to Trade," NBER Working Papers 24078, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Rowena Gray & Giulia Montresor & Greg C. Wright, 2017. "Processing Immigration Shocks: Firm Responses on the Innovation Margin," CESifo Working Paper Series 6624, CESifo Group Munich.
    5. Thibault Fally & Benjamin Faber, 2016. "Firm Heterogeneity in Consumption Baskets: Evidence from Home and Store Scanner Data," 2016 Meeting Papers 381, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    6. Alvaro Garcia Marin & Nico Voigtländer, 2013. "Exporting and Plant-Level Efficiency Gains: It's in the Measure," NBER Working Papers 19033, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. OKUBO Toshihiro & Kirill BORUSYAK, 2016. "Intra-Firm Linkages in Multi-Segment Firms: Evidence from the Japanese manufacturing sector," Discussion papers 16001, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    8. Costas Arkolakis & Marc-Andreas Muendler, 2010. "The Extensive Margin of Exporting Products: A Firm-level Analysis," CESifo Working Paper Series 3309, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    cannibalization effects; firm heterogeneity; multiproduct firms; productivity;

    JEL classification:

    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L21 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Business Objectives of the Firm
    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance
    • L60 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - General

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