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On the Relationship Between Quality and Productivity: Evidence from China's Accession to the WTO

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  • Haichao Fan
  • Yao Amber Li
  • Stephen R. Yeaple

Abstract

This paper presents an analysis of the effect of China's entry into the WTO on the quality choices of Chinese exporters in terms of their outputs and their inputs. Using highly disaggregated firm-level data, we show that the quality upgrading made possible by China's tariff reductions was concentrated in the least productive Chinese exporters. These firms, which had been laggards in terms of quality prior to the tariff reduction, were the most aggressive in increasing the quality of their exports and their inputs and in redirecting their exports toward high income markets where demand for high quality goods is strong. Our empirical results are consistent with a simple model featuring scale effect and non-Hicks' neutral productivity that disproportionately affects the efficiency with which firms use intermediate inputs. This latter feature does not appear in workhorse models of firm heterogeneity and endogenous quality choice which provide a distorted view of the impact of trade liberalization on quality upgrading.

Suggested Citation

  • Haichao Fan & Yao Amber Li & Stephen R. Yeaple, 2017. "On the Relationship Between Quality and Productivity: Evidence from China's Accession to the WTO," NBER Working Papers 23690, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23690
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Feng, Ling & Li, Zhiyuan & Swenson, Deborah L., 2016. "The connection between imported intermediate inputs and exports: Evidence from Chinese firms," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 86-101.
    2. Fan, Haichao & Lai, Edwin L.-C. & Li, Yao Amber, 2015. "Credit constraints, quality, and export prices: Theory and evidence from China," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 390-416.
    3. Maria Bas & Vanessa Strauss-Kahn, 2014. "Does importing more inputs raise exports? Firm-level evidence from France," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 150(2), pages 241-275, May.
    4. Jiandong Ju & Kang Shi & Shang-Jin Wei, 2012. "Trade Reforms and Current Account Imbalances: When Does the General Equilibrium Effect Overturn a Partial Equilibrium Intuition?," NBER Working Papers 18653, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    6. Haichao Fan & Yao Amber Li & Stephen R. Yeaple, 2015. "Trade Liberalization, Quality, and Export Prices," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1033-1051, December.
    7. Manova, Kalina & Yu, Zhihong, 2016. "How firms export: Processing vs. ordinary trade with financial frictions," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 120-137.
    8. Pol Antràs & Teresa C. Fort & Felix Tintelnot, 2017. "The Margins of Global Sourcing: Theory and Evidence from US Firms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(9), pages 2514-2564, September.
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    12. Maria Bas & Vanessa Strauss-Khan, 2014. "Does importing more inputs raise exports? Firm-level evidence from France," Post-Print hal-01297202, HAL.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bee Yan Aw & Yi Lee & Hylke Vandenbussche, 2018. "Decomposing firm-product appeal:How important is consumer taste ?," Working Paper Research 337, National Bank of Belgium.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F1 - International Economics - - Trade
    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights

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