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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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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w13155.pdf
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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. 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.
  2. Muendler, Marc-Andreas, 2004. "Estimating Production Functions When Productivity Change Is Endogenous," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt0w02f5tw, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
  3. Stephen Redding & Andrew Bernard & Peter Schott, 2005. "Product Choice and Product Switching," Working Papers 05-22, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  4. 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.
  5. Mark Doms & Eric J. Bartelsman, 2000. "Understanding Productivity: Lessons from Longitudinal Microdata," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(3), pages 569-594, September.
  6. 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.
  7. Chad Syverson, 2004. "Market Structure and Productivity: A Concrete Example," NBER Working Papers 10501, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Konings, Jozef & Vandenbussche, Hylke, 2005. "Antidumping protection and markups of domestic firms," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 151-165, January.
  9. James Levinsohn & Amil Petrin, 2000. "Estimating Production Functions Using Inputs to Control for Unobservables," NBER Working Papers 7819, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Nina Pavcnik, 2000. "Trade Liberalization, Exit, and Productivity Improvements: Evidence from Chilean Plants," NBER Working Papers 7852, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Klette, T.J., 1992. "The Inconsistency of Common Scale Estimators when Output Prices are unobserved and Endogenous," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1586, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  12. De Loecker, Jan, 2007. "Do exports generate higher productivity? Evidence from Slovenia," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 69-98, September.
  13. G. Steven Olley & Ariel Pakes, 1992. "The Dynamics of Productivity in the Telecommunications Equipment Industry," NBER Working Papers 3977, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Marcela Eslava & John Haltiwanger & Adriana Kugler & Maurice Kugler, 2004. "The effects of structural reforms on productivity and profitability enhancing reallocation: Evidence from Colombia," Economics Working Papers 763, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  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. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
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