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Innovation, firm dynamics, and international trade

  • Andrew Atkeson
  • Ariel Burstein

We present a general equilibrium model of the decisions of firms to innovate and to engage in international trade. We use the model to analyze the impact of a reduction in international trade costs on firms' process and product innovative activity. We first show analytically that if all firms export with equal intensity, then a reduction in international trade costs has no impact at all, in steady-state, on firms' investments in process innovation. We then show that if only a subset of firms export, a decline in marginal trade costs raises process innovation in exporting firms relative to that of non-exporting firms. This reallocation of process innovation reinforces existing patterns of comparative advantage, and leads to an amplified response of trade volumes and output over time. In a quantitative version of the model, we show that the increase in process innovation is largely offset by a decline in product innovation. We find that, even if process innovation is very elastic and leads to a large dynamic response of trade, output, consumption, and the firm size distribution, the dynamic welfare gains are very similar to those in a model with inelastic process innovation.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13326.

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Date of creation: Aug 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Andrew Atkeson & Ariel Tomás Burstein, 2010. "Innovation, Firm Dynamics, and International Trade," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(3), pages 433-484, 06.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13326
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