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Firms and Economic Performance: A View from Trade

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  • Bonfiglioli, Alessandra
  • Crinò, Rosario
  • Gancia, Gino

Abstract

We use transaction-level US import data to compare firms from virtually all countries in the world competing in a single destination market. Guided by a simple theoretical framework, we decompose countries' market shares into the contribution of the number of firm-products, their average attributes (quality and efficiency) and heterogeneity around the mean. To further explore the role of exceptional firms, we also develop a novel decomposition that separates the contribution of heterogeneity from that of granularity. Our results show that the number of firm-products explains half of the variation in sales, while the remaining part is equally accounted for by average attributes and their dispersion. Quality is the main driver of firm heterogeneity. While individual firms matter, we find that heterogeneity is more important than granularity for explaining sales. We then study how the distribution of firm-level characteristics varies across countries, and we explore some of its determinants. Countries with a larger market size tend to be characterized by a more dispersed distribution of firms' sales, especially due to heterogeneity in quality. These countries also tend to be more likely to host superstar firms, although this is not the only source of higher heterogeneity.

Suggested Citation

  • Bonfiglioli, Alessandra & Crinò, Rosario & Gancia, Gino, 2018. "Firms and Economic Performance: A View from Trade," CEPR Discussion Papers 12829, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:12829
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Firm Heterogeneity; granularity; International trade; prices; Quality; US Imports; Variety;

    JEL classification:

    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade

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