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Testing the Melitz Model of Trade: An Application to U.S. Motion Picture Exports

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  • Gordon H. Hanson
  • Chong Xiang

Abstract

In this paper, we develop a simple empirical method to test two alternative versions of the Melitz (2003) model, one with global fixed export costs and one with bilateral fixed export costs. With global costs, import sales per product variety (relative to domestic sales per variety) are decreasing in variable trade barriers, as a result of adjustment occurring along the intensive margin of trade. With bilateral costs, imports per product variety are increasing in fixed trade costs, due to adjustment occurring along the extensive margin. We apply our approach to data on imports of U.S. motion pictures in 46 countries over 1995-2006. Imports per product variety are decreasing in geographic distance, linguistic distance, and other measures of trade costs, consistent with adjustment to these costs occurring along the intensive margin. There is relatively little variation in the number of U.S. movies that countries import but wide variation in the box-office revenues per movie. The data thus appear to reject the bilateral-fixed-export-cost model in favor of the global-fixed-export-cost model.

Suggested Citation

  • Gordon H. Hanson & Chong Xiang, 2008. "Testing the Melitz Model of Trade: An Application to U.S. Motion Picture Exports," NBER Working Papers 14461, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14461
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Anita Elberse & Jehoshua Eliashberg, 2003. "Demand and Supply Dynamics for Sequentially Released Products in International Markets: The Case of Motion Pictures," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 22(3), pages 329-354.
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    6. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum & Francis Kramarz, 2004. "Dissecting Trade: Firms, Industries, and Export Destinations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 150-154, May.
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    8. Pol Antras & Elhanan Helpman, 2004. "Global Sourcing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(3), pages 552-580, June.
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    11. repec:hrv:faseco:4784029 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. De Vany, Arthur S. & Walls, W. David, 2004. "Motion picture profit, the stable Paretian hypothesis, and the curse of the superstar," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 28(6), pages 1035-1057, March.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. di Giovanni, Julian & Levchenko, Andrei A. & Rancière, Romain, 2011. "Power laws in firm size and openness to trade: Measurement and implications," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(1), pages 42-52, September.
    2. Cardoso-Vargas, Carlos Enrique, 2015. "Productivity, size and exporting dynamics of firms: Evidence for Mexico," MPRA Paper 68425, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 09 Jul 2015.
    3. Fernando Ferreira & Joel Waldfogel, 2010. "Pop Internationalism: Has A Half Century of World Music Trade Displaced Local Culture?," NBER Working Papers 15964, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Hanson, Gordon & Xiang, Chong, 2011. "Trade barriers and trade flows with product heterogeneity: An application to US motion picture exports," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 14-26, January.
    5. Ahn, JaeBin & Khandelwal, Amit K. & Wei, Shang-Jin, 2011. "The role of intermediaries in facilitating trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 73-85, May.
    6. Luca A Ricci & Federico Trionfetti, 2011. "Evidence on Productivity, Comparative Advantage, and Networks in the Export Performance of Firms," IMF Working Papers 11/77, International Monetary Fund.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation
    • F2 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business

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