IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Estimating the Productivity Selection and Technology Spillover Effects of Imports

  • Ram C. Acharya
  • Wolfgang Keller

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.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14079.

in new window

Date of creation: Jun 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as International Trade, Foreign Direct Investment, and Technology Spillovers, Chapter 19 in B. Hall, N. Rosenberg (eds.), Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, Elsevier North-Holland, 2010
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14079
Note: ITI PR
Contact details of provider: Postal:
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.

Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Natalie Chen & Jean Imbs & Andrew Scott, 2006. "The dynamics of trade and competition," Working Paper Research 91, National Bank of Belgium.
  2. Keller, W., 1996. "Trade and the Transmission of Technology," Working papers 9620, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  3. Mary Hallward-Driemeier & Giuseppe Iarossi & Kenneth L. Sokoloff, 2002. "Exports and Manufacturing Productivity in East Asia: A Comparative Analysis with Firm-Level Data," NBER Working Papers 8894, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Djankov, Simeon & La Porta, Rafael & Shleifer, Andrei & Lopez de Silanes, Florencio, 2001. "The regulation of entry," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2661, The World Bank.
  5. Horstmann, Ignatius J. & Markusen, James R., 1986. "Up the average cost curve: Inefficient entry and the new protectionism," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(3-4), pages 225-247, May.
  6. Keller, Wolfgang, 2002. "International Technology Diffusion," CEPR Discussion Papers 3133, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Paula Bustos, 2009. "Trade Liberalization, Exports and Technology Upgrading: Evidence on the Impact of MERCOSUR on Argentinean Firms," 2009 Meeting Papers 1029, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  8. 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.
  9. Johannes Van Biesebroeck, 2004. "Robustness of Productivity Estimates," NBER Working Papers 10303, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Verhoogen, Eric A, 2007. "Trade, Quality Upgrading and Wage Inequality in the Mexican Manufacturing Sector," CEPR Discussion Papers 6385, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Combes, Pierre-Philippe & Duranton, Gilles & Gobillon, Laurent & Puga, Diego & Roux, Sébastien, 2009. "The productivity advantages of large cities: Distinguishing agglomeration from firm selection," CEPR Discussion Papers 7191, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. 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.
  13. Sofronis Clerides & Saul Lach & James Tybout, 1996. "Is "Learning-by-Exporting" Important? Micro-Dynamic Evidence from Colombia, Mexico and Morocco," NBER Working Papers 5715, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Marc J. Melitz, 2003. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(6), pages 1695-1725, November.
  15. Johannes Van Biesebroeck, 2003. "Exporting Raises Productivity in Sub-Saharan African Manufacturing Plants," NBER Working Papers 10020, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen, 1997. "Exceptional Exporter Performance: Cause, Effect, or Both?," NBER Working Papers 6272, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Christian Broda & David E. Weinstein, 2006. "Globalization and the Gains From Variety," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(2), pages 541-585.
  18. Windmeijer, Frank, 2005. "A finite sample correction for the variance of linear efficient two-step GMM estimators," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 126(1), pages 25-51, May.
  19. Richard Blundell & Stephen Bond, 2000. "GMM Estimation with persistent panel data: an application to production functions," Econometric Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(3), pages 321-340.
  20. Volker Nocke & Stephen Yeaple, 2006. "Globalization and Endogenous Firm Scope," NBER Working Papers 12322, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Nina Pavcnik, 2000. "Trade Liberalization, Exit, and Productivity Improvements: Evidence from Chilean Plants," NBER Working Papers 7852, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Marc J. Melitz & Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano, 2005. "Market Size, Trade, and Productivity," NBER Working Papers 11393, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Eric Bartelsman & John Haltiwanger & Stefano Scarpetta, 2009. "Measuring and Analyzing Cross-country Differences in Firm Dynamics," NBER Chapters, in: Producer Dynamics: New Evidence from Micro Data, pages 15-76 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Alessandro Nicita & Marcelo Olarreaga, 2007. "Trade, Production, and Protection Database, 1976--2004," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 21(1), pages 165-171.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14079. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.