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

Listed author(s):
  • Haichao Fan
  • Yao Amber Li
  • Stephen R. Yeaple

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.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 23690.

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Date of creation: Aug 2017
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23690
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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.
  5. 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.
  6. Brandt, Loren & Van Biesebroeck, Johannes & Zhang, Yifan, 2012. "Creative accounting or creative destruction? Firm-level productivity growth in Chinese manufacturing," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 339-351.
  7. Brian McCaig & Nina Pavcnik, 2015. "Informal Employment in a Growing and Globalizing Low-Income Country," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(5), pages 545-550, May.
  8. repec:aea:aecrev:v:107:y:2017:i:9:p:2514-64 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Maria Bas & Vanessa Strauss-Khan, 2014. "Does importing more inputs raise exports? Firm-level evidence from France," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-01297202, HAL.
  10. repec:hal:journl:hal-01297202 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. Brian McCaig & Nina Pavcnik, 2014. "Export Markets and Labor Allocation in a Low-income Country," NBER Working Papers 20455, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. James Levinsohn & Amil Petrin, 2003. "Estimating Production Functions Using Inputs to Control for Unobservables," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(2), pages 317-341.
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