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A Balls-and-Bins Model of Trade

  • Armenter, Roc
  • Koren, Miklós

A number of stylized facts have been documented about the extensive margin of trade - which firms export, and how many products they send to how many destinations. We argue that the sparse nature of trade data is crucial to understanding these stylized facts. Typically the number of observations - that is, total shipments - is low relative to the number of possible classifications - e.g., countries and product codes. We propose a statistical model to account for the sparsity of trade data. We formalize the assignment of shipments to categories as balls falling into bins. The balls-and-bins model quantitatively reproduces the prevalence of zero product-level trade flows across export destinations. The model also accounts for firm-level facts: as in the data, most firms export a single product to a single country but these firms represent a tiny fraction of total exports. In contrast, the balls-and-bins model cannot reproduce the small fraction of exporters among U.S. firms. We discuss the implications for identifying the relevant model of the extensive margin in trade.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7783.

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Date of creation: Apr 2010
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7783
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  13. Ghosh, Sucharita & Yamarik, Steven, 2004. "Are regional trading arrangements trade creating?: An application of extreme bounds analysis," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 369-395, July.
  14. Schaefer Kurt C & Anderson Michael A & Ferrantino Michael J, 2008. "Monte Carlo Appraisals of Gravity Model Specifications," Global Economy Journal, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-26, February.
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  16. László Halpern & Miklós Koren & Adam Szeidl, 2011. "Imported Inputs and Productivity," CeFiG Working Papers 8, Center for Firms in the Global Economy, revised 16 Sep 2011.
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