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International Trade, Offshoring and Heterogeneous Firms

  • Richard Baldwin
  • Toshihiro Okubo

Recent trade models determine the equilibrium distribution of firm-level efficiency endogenously and show that freer trade shifts the distribution towards higher average productivity due to entry and exit of firms. These models ignore the possibility that freer trade also alters the firm-size distribution via international firm migration (offshoring); firms must, by assumption, produce in their 'birth nation.' We show that when firms are allowed to switch locations, new productivity effects arise. Freer trade induces the most efficient small-nation firms to move to the large nation. The big country gets an 'extra helping' of the most efficient firms while the small nation's firm-size distribution is truncated on both ends. This reinforces the big-nation productivity gain while reducing or even reversing the small-nation productivity gain. The small nation is nevertheless better off allowing firm migration.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w16660.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16660.

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Date of creation: Jan 2011
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Publication status: published as Richard E. Baldwin & Toshihiro Okubo, 2014. "International Trade, Offshoring and Heterogeneous Firms," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 22(1), pages 59-72, 02.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16660
Note: ITI
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  1. Forslid, Rikard & Okubo, Toshihiro, 2010. "On the Development Strategy of Countries of Intermediate size - An Analysis of Heterogenous Fims in a Multiregion Framework," Research Papers in Economics 2010:28, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  2. Okubo, Toshihiro & Picard, Pierre M. & Thisse, Jacques-François, 2010. "The spatial selection of heterogeneous firms," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 230-237, November.
  3. Eiichi Tomiura, 2005. "Foreign Outsourcing, Exporting, and FDI: A Productivity Comparison at the Firm Level," Discussion Paper Series 168, Research Institute for Economics & Business Administration, Kobe University.
  4. Stephen Redding, 2010. "Theories of Heterogeneous Firms and Trade," CEP Discussion Papers dp0994, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  5. Paul Krugman, 1990. "Increasing Returns and Economic Geography," NBER Working Papers 3275, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. 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.
  7. Yeaple, Stephen Ross, 2005. "A simple model of firm heterogeneity, international trade, and wages," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 1-20, January.
  8. Richard Baldwin & Toshihiro Okubo, 2005. "Heterogeneous Firms, Agglomeration and Economic Geography: Spatial Selection and Sorting," NBER Working Papers 11650, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Keith Head & John Ries, 2003. "Heterogeneity and the FDI versus Export Decision of Japanese Manufacturers," NBER Working Papers 10052, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Okubo, Toshihiro, 2009. "Trade liberalisation and agglomeration with firm heterogeneity: Forward and backward linkages," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(5), pages 530-541, September.
  11. Arnold, Jens Matthias & Hussinger, Katrin, 2005. "Exports versus FDI in German Manufacturing: Firm Performance and Participation in International Markets," ZEW Discussion Papers 05-73, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  12. Forslid, Rikard & Okubo, Toshihiro, 2012. "On the development strategy of countries of intermediate size—An analysis of heterogeneous firms in a multi-region framework," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 747-756.
  13. Baldwin, Richard & Okubo, Toshihiro, 2006. "Agglomeration, Offshoring and Heterogenous Firms," CEPR Discussion Papers 5663, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Demidova, Svetlana, 2005. "Productivity Improvements and Falling Trade Costs: Boon or Bane?," Working Papers 2-05-1, Pennsylvania State University, Department of Economics.
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