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Falling Trade Costs, Heterogeneous Firms, and Industry Dynamics

  • Andrew B. Bernard


    (Dartmouth College - Tuck School of Business)

  • J. Bradford Jensen


    (Institute for International Economics)

  • Peter K. Schott


    (Yale University, Yale School of Management)

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 heterogenous-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 Peterson Institute for International Economics in its series Working Paper Series with number WP03-4.

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Date of creation: May 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iie:wpaper:wp03-4
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  1. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:108:y:1993:i:3:p:653-79 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen, 1997. "Exceptional Exporter Performance: Cause, Effect, or Both?," NBER Working Papers 6272, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Francisco Rodriguez & Dani Rodrik, 1999. "Trade Policy and Economic Growth: a Skeptic's Guide to the Cross-National Evidence," Working Papers 9912, Economic Research Forum, revised Apr 1999.
  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. Head, Keith & Ries, John, 1999. "Rationalization effects of tariff reductions," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 295-320, April.
  6. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen, 2002. "The Deaths of Manufacturing Plants," NBER Working Papers 9026, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen, 2004. "Why Some Firms Export," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 561-569, May.
  13. Eric J. Bartelsman & Wayne Gray, 1996. "The NBER Manufacturing Productivity Database," NBER Technical Working Papers 0205, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. 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.
  15. James R. Tybout, 2001. "Plant- and Firm-Level Evidence on "New" Trade Theories," NBER Working Papers 8418, 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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