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Agglomeration, Offshoring and Heterogenous Firms


  • Baldwin, Richard
  • Okubo, Toshihiro


Recent trade models determine the equilibrium distribution of firm-level efficiency endogenously and show that freer trade shifts the distribution towards higher average productivity due to entry and exit of firms. These models ignore the possibility that freer trade also alters the firm-size distribution via international firm migration (offshoring); firms must, by assumption, produce in their 'birth nation.' We show that when firms are allowed to switch locations, new productivity effects arise. Freer trade induces the most efficient small-nation firms to move to the large nation. The big country gets an 'extra helping' of the most efficient firms while the small nation's firm-size distribution is truncated on both ends. This reinforces the big-nation productivity gain while reducing or even reversing the small-nation productivity gain. The small nation is nevertheless better off allowing firm migration.

Suggested Citation

  • Baldwin, Richard & Okubo, Toshihiro, 2006. "Agglomeration, Offshoring and Heterogenous Firms," CEPR Discussion Papers 5663, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5663

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    5. Masahisa Fujita & Paul Krugman & Anthony J. Venables, 2001. "The Spatial Economy: Cities, Regions, and International Trade," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262561476, January.
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    7. Marc J. Melitz & Gianmarco I. P. Ottaviano, 2008. "Market Size, Trade, and Productivity," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(1), pages 295-316.
    8. Richard E. Baldwin & Toshihiro Okubo, 2006. "Heterogeneous firms, agglomeration and economic geography: spatial selection and sorting," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(3), pages 323-346, June.
    9. Elhanan Helpman & Marc J. Melitz & Stephen R. Yeaple, 2004. "Export Versus FDI with Heterogeneous Firms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 300-316, March.
    10. Andrew B. Bernard & Stephen J. Redding & Peter K. Schott, 2007. "Comparative Advantage and Heterogeneous Firms," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(1), pages 31-66.
    11. Martin, Philippe & Rogers, Carol Ann, 1995. "Industrial location and public infrastructure," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(3-4), pages 335-351, November.
    12. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2002. "Technology, Geography, and Trade," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(5), pages 1741-1779, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Richard E. Baldwin & Toshihiro Okubo, 2014. "International Trade, Offshoring and Heterogeneous Firms," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 22(1), pages 59-72, February.
    2. repec:nbp:nbpbik:v:47:y:2016:i:6:p:463-494 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Richard Baldwin & Toshihiro Okubo, 2009. "Tax Reform, Delocation, and Heterogeneous Firms," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 111(4), pages 741-764, December.
    4. Toshihiro Okubo, 2012. "Antiagglomeration Subsidies With Heterogeneous Firms," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(2), pages 285-299, May.
    5. Jang Ping Thia, 2008. "Why Capital does not Migrate to the South: A New Economic Geography Perspective," CEP Discussion Papers dp0895, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    6. Toshihiro Okubo, 2009. "Firm heterogeneity and Ricardian comparative advantage within and across sectors," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 38(3), pages 533-559, March.
    7. Richard E. Baldwin & Toshihiro Okubo, 2005. "Tax reform, delocation and heterogeneous firms: Base widening and rate lowering rule," Discussion Paper Series 222, Research Institute for Economics & Business Administration, Kobe University, revised May 2008.
    8. Hea-Jung Hyun, 2010. "Firm Heterogeneity in the Choice of Offshoring: Evidence from Korean Manufacturing Firms," Asian Economic Papers, MIT Press, vol. 9(1), pages 157-178, Winter/Sp.
    9. Ali-Yrkkö, Jyrki & Deschryvere, Matthias, 2008. "Domestic R&D Employment Effects of Offshoring R&D Tasks: Some Empirical Evidence from Finland," Discussion Papers 1163, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
    10. Churen Sun & Zhihao Yu & Tao Zhang, 2012. "Agglomeration, Productivity, and Firms¡® Exports: Evidence from Chinese Firm-level Data," ERSA conference papers ersa12p882, European Regional Science Association.
    11. Thia, Jang Ping, 2008. "Why capital does not migrate to the south: a new economic geography perspective," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 28508, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    12. Maria Florencia Granato, 2011. "REGIONAL NEW ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY (refereed paper)," ERSA conference papers ersa10p747, European Regional Science Association.
    13. Jonathan Eberle & Thomas Brenner, 2016. "More bucks, more growth, more justice? The effects of regional structural funds on regional economic growth and convergence in Germany," Working Papers on Innovation and Space 2016-01, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
    14. Baldwin, Richard & Okubo, Toshihiro, 2008. "Tax Reform, Delocation and Heterogeneous Firms: Base Widening and Rate Lowering Reforms," CEPR Discussion Papers 6843, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    15. Sun, Churen & Yu, Zhihao & Zhang, Tao, 2012. "Agglomeration and Trade with Heterogeneous Firms," MPRA Paper 49001, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 17 Aug 2013.

    More about this item


    delocation; economic geography; heterogenous firms; hollowing-out; offshoring; productivity effects;

    JEL classification:

    • H32 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Firm
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism

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