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Falling trade costs, heterogeneous firms and industry dynamics

  • Andrew B. Bernard
  • J. Bradford Jensen
  • Peter K. Schott

This paper examines the response of industries and firms to changes in trade costs. Several new firm-level models of international trade with heterogeneous firms predict that industry productivity will rise as trade costs fall due to the reallocation of activity across plants within an industry. Using disaggregated U.S. import data, we create a new measure of trade costs over time and industries. As the models predict, productivity growth is faster in industries with falling trade costs. We also find evidence supporting the major hypotheses of the heterogeneous-firm models. Plants in industries with falling trade costs are more likely to die or become exporters. Existing exporters increase their shipments abroad. The results do not apply equally across all sectors but are strongest for industries most likely to be producing horizontally-differentiated tradeable goods.

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Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 20027.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:20027
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  1. Francisco Rodriguez & Dani Rodrik, 2001. "Trade Policy and Economic Growth: A Skeptic's Guide to the Cross-National Evidence," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2000, Volume 15, pages 261-338 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Head, Keith & Ries, John, 1999. "Rationalization effects of tariff reductions," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 295-320, April.
  3. Bernard, A., 1997. "Exceptional Exporter Performance: Cause, Effect, or Both?," Working papers 97-21, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  4. Roberts, M. & Tybout, J., 1993. "An Empirical Model of Sunk Costs and the Decision to Export," Papers 4-93-3, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  5. Krugman, Paul, 1980. "Scale Economies, Product Differentiation, and the Pattern of Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(5), pages 950-59, December.
  6. James R. Tybout, 2001. "Plant- and Firm-Level Evidence on "New" Trade Theories," NBER Working Papers 8418, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Francisco Rodriguez & Dani Rodrik, 1999. "Trade Policy and Economic Growth: A Skeptic's Guide to Cross-National Evidence," NBER Working Papers 7081, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen, 2001. "Why Some Firms Export," NBER Working Papers 8349, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Daniel Trefler, 2004. "The Long and Short of the Canada-U. S. Free Trade Agreement," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 870-895, September.
  10. J. Bradford Jensen & Andrew B Bernard, 2002. "The Deaths of Manufacturing Plants," Working Papers 02-15, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  11. Dan Ben-David, 1993. "Equalizing Exchange: Trade Liberalization and Income Convergence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 653-679.
  12. Eric J. Bartelsman & Wayne Gray, 1996. "The NBER Manufacturing Productivity Database," NBER Technical Working Papers 0205, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Jeffrey Sachs & Andrew Warner, 1995. "Economic Reform and the Progress of Global Integration," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1733, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  14. Yeaple, Stephen Ross, 2005. "A simple model of firm heterogeneity, international trade, and wages," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 1-20, January.
  15. Robert C. Feenstra & John Romalis & Peter K. Schott, 2002. "U.S. Imports, Exports, and Tariff Data, 1989-2001," NBER Working Papers 9387, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Aw, Bee Yan & Chung, Sukkyun & Roberts, Mark J, 2000. "Productivity and Turnover in the Export Market: Micro-level Evidence from the Republic of Korea and Taiwan (China)," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 14(1), pages 65-90, January.
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