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Estimating the Productivity Selection and Technology Spillover Effects of Imports

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  • Ram C. Acharya
  • Wolfgang Keller

Abstract

Economists emphasize two channels through which import liberalization affects productivity, one operating between and the other within firms. According to the former, import competition triggers market share reallocations between domestic firms with different technological capabilities (selection). At the same time, imports can also improve firms' technologies through learning externalities (spillovers). We present evidence for a sample of industrialized countries over the period 1973 to 2002. First, in the long run, import liberalization lowers productivity in domestic industries through selection. This finding confirms the prediction of models with firm heterogeneity, including Melitz and Ottaviano (2008), in which unilateral liberalization lowers the profits of domestic relative to foreign exporters. Second, if imports involve advanced foreign technologies, liberalization also generates technological learning that can on net raise domestic productivity. Third, for short time horizons of up to three years, a surge in imports typically raises domestic productivity. Because the number of firms at home and abroad does not change much in the short-run, new competition from foreign firms has a pro-competitive effect. We also find that high entry barriers, especially regulation, slow down the process of market share reallocation between firms. Over- all, the results support models in which trade triggers both substantial selection and technological learning.

Suggested Citation

  • Ram C. Acharya & Wolfgang Keller, 2008. "Estimating the Productivity Selection and Technology Spillover Effects of Imports," NBER Working Papers 14079, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14079 Note: ITI PR
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    2. repec:taf:ecinnt:v:26:y:2017:i:1-2:p:121-133 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Mohammad M Rahaman, 2016. "Chinese import competition and the provisions for external debt financing in the US," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 47(8), pages 898-928, October.
    4. Edward N. Wolff, 2011. "Spillovers, Linkages, and Productivity Growth in the US Economy, 1958 to 2007," NBER Working Papers 16864, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Christopher F. Baum & Hans Lööf & Pardis Nabavi & Andreas Stephan, 2017. "A new approach to estimation of the R&D–innovation–productivity relationship," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 26(1-2), pages 121-133, February.
    6. Anna Bohnstedt, 2013. "Spillovers from Foreign Exporters," Ruhr Economic Papers 0400, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    7. Bezemer, Dirk & Grydaki, Maria, 2013. "Debt and the U.S. Great Moderation," MPRA Paper 47399, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Helena Schweiger & Guido Friebel, 2013. "Management Quality, Ownership, Firm Performance and Market Pressure in Russia," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 24(4), pages 763-788, September.
    9. Nicholas Bloom & Mirko Draca & John Van Reenen, 2016. "Trade Induced Technical Change? The Impact of Chinese Imports on Innovation, IT and Productivity," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 83(1), pages 87-117.
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    11. Wolfgang Keller & Carol H. Shiue, 2013. "The Link Between Fundamentals and Proximate Factors in Development," NBER Working Papers 18808, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. repec:ebd:wpaper:144 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Bohnstedt, Anna, 2013. "Spillovers from Foreign Exporters," Ruhr Economic Papers 400, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    14. Harris, Richard, 2009. "Spillover and backward linkage effects of FDI: empirical evidence for the UK," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 33206, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    15. Kazuo Ogawa & Elmer Sterken & Ichiro Tokutsu, 2016. "International R&D Spillovers and Marginal Social Returns on R&D," CESifo Working Paper Series 6255, CESifo Group Munich.
    16. Itzhak Goldberg & John Gabriel Goddard & Smita Kuriakose & Jean-Louis Racine, 2011. "Igniting Innovation : Rethinking the Role of Government in Emerging Europe and Central Asia," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2358.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F1 - International Economics - - Trade
    • F2 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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