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Establishment heterogeneity, exporter dynamics, and the effects of trade liberalization

  • George Alessandria
  • Horag Choi

The authors study a variation of the Melitz (2003) model, a monopolistically competitive model with heterogeneity in productivity across establishments and fixed costs of exporting. They calibrate the model to match the employment size distribution of US manufacturing establishments. Export participation in the calibrated model is then compared to the data on US manufacturing exporters. With fixed costs of starting to export about 3.9 times as large as costs of continuing as an exporter, the model can match both the size distribution of exporters and transition into and out of exporting. The calibrated model is then used to estimate the effect of reducing tariffs on welfare, trade, and export participation. The authors find sizeable gains to moving to free trade. Contrary to the view that the gains to lowering tariffs are larger in models with export decisions, they find that steady state consumption increases by less in their benchmark model of exporting than in a similar model without fixed costs. However, they also find that comparisons of steady state consumption understate the welfare gains to trade reform in models with fixed costs and overstate the welfare gains in models without fixed costs. With fixed costs, tariffs lead to an overaccumulation of product varieties which can be used more effectively along the transition to the new steady state. Thus, following trade liberalizations economic activity overshoots its steady state, with the peak in output coming 10 years after the trade reform. Finally, the authors explore the impact of the key modelling assumptions in the theoretical literature for quantitative results.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia in its series Working Papers with number 07-17.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedpwp:07-17
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  1. Fabio Ghironi & Marc Melitz, 2004. "International Trade and Macroeconomic Dynamics with Heterogeneous Firms," 2004 Meeting Papers 451, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. George Alessandria & Horag Choi, 2007. "Establishment heterogeneity, exporter dynamics, and the effects of trade liberalization," Working Papers 07-17, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  3. Jonathan Eaton, Marcela Eslava, Maurice Kugler, and James Tybout, 2007. "Export Dynamics in Colombia: Firm-Level Evidence," Working Papers eg0038, Wilfrid Laurier University, Department of Economics, revised 2007.
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  13. Dunne, T. & Roberts, M.J. & Samuelson, L., 1988. "The Growth And Failure Of U.S. Manufacturing Plants," Papers 1-87-5, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  14. Baldwin, Richard & Forslid, Rikard, 2004. "Trade Liberalization with Heterogenous Firms," CEPR Discussion Papers 4635, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. David Weinstein & Christian Broda, 2004. "Globalization and the Gains from Variety," Econometric Society 2004 North American Summer Meetings 508, Econometric Society.
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  19. Fernando Alvarez & Robert E. Lucas, 2005. "General Equilibrium Analysis of the Eaton-Kortum Model of International Trade," NBER Working Papers 11764, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. George Alessandria & Horag Choi, 2007. "Do Sunk Costs of Exporting Matter for Net Export Dynamics?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(1), pages 289-336, 02.
  21. Melitz, Marc J, 2002. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," CEPR Discussion Papers 3381, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  24. Steven J. Davis & John C. Haltiwanger & Scott Schuh, 1998. "Job Creation and Destruction," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262540932, June.
  25. Kei-Mu Yi, 2000. "Can vertical specialization explain the growth of world trade?," Staff Reports 96, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
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  27. Baldwin, Richard & Krugman, Paul, 1989. "Persistent Trade Effects of Large Exchange Rate Shocks," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 104(4), pages 635-54, November.
  28. Jhonatan Eaton & Marcela Eslava & Maurice Kugler & James Tybout, . "Export Growth in Colombia: Firm-Level Evidence," Borradores de Economia 446, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
  29. Dixit, Avinash K, 1989. "Hysteresis, Import Penetration, and Exchange Rate Pass-Through," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 104(2), pages 205-28, May.
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