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A Note on Detecting Learning by Exporting

  • Jan De Loecker

Learning by exporting refers to the mechanism whereby firms improve their performance (productivity) after entering export markets. Although this mechanism is often mentioned in policy documents, a significant share of econometric studies has not found evidence for this hypothesis. This paper shows that the methods used to come to the latter conclusion suffer from a large internal inconsistency: they rely on an exogenous evolving productivity process. I show how recent proxy estimators can accommodate endogenous productivity processes such as learning by exporting. I rely on my framework to discuss the bias introduced by ignoring such a process and how adjusting for it can lead to detect significant productivity gains upon export entry. I estimate my model on standard firm-level data and find substantial additional productivity gains from entering export markets.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16548.

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Date of creation: Nov 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as \Detecting Learning by Exporting", 2013, American Economic Journal: Microeconomics , August, Vol 5, No 3, pp. 1-21.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16548
Note: ITI PR
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  1. Jan De Loecker, 2007. "Product Differentiation, Multi-product Firms and Estimating the Impact of Trade Liberalization on Productivity," NBER Working Papers 13155, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. 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.
  3. James Levinsohn & Amil Petrin, 2000. "Estimating Production Functions Using Inputs to Control for Unobservables," NBER Working Papers 7819, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. 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.
  5. Johannes Van Biesebroeck, 2003. "Exporting Raises Productivity in Sub-Saharan African Manufacturing Plants," NBER Working Papers 10020, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Bernard, Andrew B. & Bradford Jensen, J., 1999. "Exceptional exporter performance: cause, effect, or both?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 1-25, February.
  7. Ackerberg, Daniel & Caves, Kevin & Frazer, Garth, 2006. "Structural identification of production functions," MPRA Paper 38349, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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