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

  • Gordon H. Hanson
  • Chong Xiang

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.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14461.

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Date of creation: Oct 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14461
Note: ITI
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  1. Fearon, James D, 2003. " Ethnic and Cultural Diversity by Country," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 195-222, June.
  2. Andrew Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Stephen Redding & Peter Schott, 2007. "Firms in International Trade," Working Papers 07-14, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
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  4. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum & Francis Kramarz, 2004. "Dissecting Trade: Firms, Industries, and Export Destinations," NBER Working Papers 10344, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2004. "Trade Costs," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 593, Boston College Department of Economics.
  6. Pol Antras & Elhanan Helpman, 2004. "Global Sourcing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(3), pages 552-580, June.
  7. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen, 2004. "Why Some Firms Export," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 561-569, May.
  8. Costas Arkolakis, 2008. "Market Penetration Costs and the New Consumers Margin in International Trade," NBER Working Papers 14214, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. 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.
  10. Andrew B. Bernard & Jonathan Eaton & J. Bradford Jensen & Samuel Kortum, 2000. "Plants and Productivity in International Trade," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 105, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
  11. 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.
  12. De Vany, Arthur S & Walls, W David, 1997. "The Market for Motion Pictures: Rank, Revenue, and Survival," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(4), pages 783-97, October.
  13. repec:hrv:faseco:4784029 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. Bernard, A., 1997. "Exceptional Exporter Performance: Cause, Effect, or Both?," Working papers 97-21, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  15. Baldwin, Richard & Harrigan, James, 2007. "Zeros, Quality and Space: Trade Theory and Trade Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 6368, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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