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Product Differentiation, Multi-product Firms and Estimating the Impact of Trade Liberalization on Productivity

  • Jan De Loecker

In this paper I analyze the productivity gains from trade liberalization in the Belgian textile industry. So far, empirical research has established a strong relationship between opening up to trade and productivity, relying almost entirely on deflated sales to proxy for output in the production function. The latter implies that the resulting productivity estimates still capture price and demand shocks which are most likely to be correlated with the change in the operating environment, which invalidate the evaluation of the welfare implications. In order to get at the true productivity gains I propose a simple methodology to estimate a production function controlling for unobserved prices by introducing an explicit demand system. I combine a unique data set containing matched plant-level and product-level information with detailed product-level quota protection information to recover estimates for productivity as well as parameters of the demand side (markups). I find that when correcting for unobserved prices and demand shocks, the estimated productivity gains from relaxing protection are only half (from 8 to only 4 percent) of those obtained with standard techniques.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13155.

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Date of creation: Jun 2007
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Publication status: published as Jan De Loecker, 2011. "Product Differentiation, Multiproduct Firms, and Estimating the Impact of Trade Liberalization on Productivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 79(5), pages 1407-1451, 09.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13155
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  1. Bernard, Andrew B. & Redding, Stephen J. & Schott, Peter K., 2003. "Product Choice and Product Switching," CEPR Discussion Papers 3959, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Marc-Andreas Muendler, 2004. "Estimating Production Functions When Productivity Change is Endogenous," CESifo Working Paper Series 1143, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. James Tybout, 1999. "Manufacturing Firms in Developing Countries: How Well Do They Do, and Why?," Development and Comp Systems 9906001, EconWPA, revised 10 Jun 1999.
  4. Olley, G Steven & Pakes, Ariel, 1996. "The Dynamics of Productivity in the Telecommunications Equipment Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(6), pages 1263-97, November.
  5. Marcela Eslava & John Haltiwanger & Adriana Kugler & Maurice Kugler, 2004. "The Effect of Structural Reforms on Productivity and Profitability Enhancing Reallocation: Evidence from Colombia," NBER Working Papers 10367, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Eric J. Bartelsman & Mark Doms, 2000. "Understanding productivity: lessons from longitudinal microdata," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-19, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  7. James Levinsohn & Amil Petrin, 2000. "Estimating Production Functions Using Inputs to Control for Unobservables," NBER Working Papers 7819, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Steven T. Berry, 1994. "Estimating Discrete-Choice Models of Product Differentiation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(2), pages 242-262, Summer.
  9. Van Biesebroeck, Johannes, 2005. "Exporting raises productivity in sub-Saharan African manufacturing firms," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 373-391, December.
  10. Klette, Tor Jakob & Griliches, Zvi, 1996. "The Inconsistency of Common Scale Estimators When Output Prices Are Unobserved and Endogenous," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(4), pages 343-61, July-Aug..
  11. Jan De Loecker, 2004. "Do Exports Generate Higher Productivity? Evidence from Slovenia," LICOS Discussion Papers 15104, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
  12. Haijime Katayama & Shihua Lu & James Tybout, 2003. "Why Plant-Level Productivity Studies are Often Misleading, and an Alternative Approach to Interference," NBER Working Papers 9617, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Harrison, Ann E., 1994. "Productivity, imperfect competition and trade reform : Theory and evidence," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(1-2), pages 53-73, February.
  14. Chad Syverson, 2001. "Market Structure and Productivity: A Concrete Example," Working Papers 01-06, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  15. Manuel Arellano & Stephen Bond, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(2), pages 277-297.
  16. James Levinsohn & Amil Petrin, 2003. "Estimating Production Functions Using Inputs to Control for Unobservables," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(2), pages 317-341.
  17. Konings, Jozef & Vandenbussche, Hylke, 2005. "Antidumping protection and markups of domestic firms," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 151-165, January.
  18. Nina Pavcnik, 2000. "Trade Liberalization, Exit, and Productivity Improvements: Evidence from Chilean Plants," NBER Working Papers 7852, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Richard Ericson & Ariel Pakes, 1995. "Markov-Perfect Industry Dynamics: A Framework for Empirical Work," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(1), pages 53-82.
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