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Factor Intensity, Product Switching, and Productivity: Evidence from Chinese Exporters

  • Yue Ma

    (Lingnan University)

  • Heiwai Tang

    (Tufts University and MIT Sloan)

  • Yifan Zhang

    (Lingnan University)

This paper analyzes the causal relations between firms' productivity, factor intensity and export participation. Using propensity score matching techniques and firm-level panel data for Chinese manufacturing firms over the 1998-2007 period, we find strong evidence of domestic firms self-selecting into export markets with higher productivity ex ante, and enhanced productivity ex post. No such pattern is observed among foreign-invested ?rms. We also find that both domestic and foreign new exporters exploit China?s low labor costs and specialize in their core competence, that is, firms become less capital-intensive after exporting, relative to the matched non-exporting counterparts in the same industry. To rationalize these results that contrast with most findings in the existing literature, we develop a variant of the multi-product model of Bernard, Redding, and Schott (2010) to consider varying capital intensity across products. Using transaction-level export data, we find evidence that Chinese exporters add new products that are more labor-intensive than existing products and drop products that are less labor- intensive, supporting the model predictions. Firms with a bigger decline in capital intensity after exporting are found to have a larger increase in measured TFP.

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Paper provided by Development and Policies Research Center (DEPOCEN), Vietnam in its series Working Papers with number 09.

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Length: 51 pages
Date of creation: 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:dpc:wpaper:0913
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