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Granular Comparative Advantage

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  • Cecile Gaubert
  • Oleg Itskhoki

Abstract

Large firms play a pivotal role in international trade, shaping the export patterns of countries. We propose and quantify a granular multi-sector model of trade, which combines fundamental comparative advantage across sectors with granular comparative advantage embodied in outstanding individual firms. We develop an SMM-based estimation procedure, which takes full account of the general equilibrium of the model, to jointly estimate these fundamental and granular forces using French micro-data with information on firm domestic and export sales across manufacturing industries. We find that granularity accounts for about 20% of the variation in realized export intensity across sectors, and is more pronounced in the most export-intensive sectors. In turn, idiosyncratic firm dynamics accounts for a large share of the evolution of a country's comparative advantage over time. Governments face strong incentives to target trade policy at large individual foreign exporters, and to use lenient antitrust regulation at home to substitute for beggar-thy-neighbor trade policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Cecile Gaubert & Oleg Itskhoki, 2018. "Granular Comparative Advantage," NBER Working Papers 24807, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:24807
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    Cited by:

    1. Ciliberto, Federico & Jäkel, Ina C., 2021. "Superstar exporters: An empirical investigation of strategic interactions in Danish export markets," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 129(C).
    2. Chor, Davin & Manova, Kalina & Yu, Zhihong, 2021. "Growing like China: Firm performance and global production line position," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 130(C).
    3. Mrázová, Monika & Neary, J. Peter, 2020. "IO for exports(s)," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(C).
    4. Ernesto Pasten & Raphael Schoenle & Michael Weber, 2017. "Price Rigidity and the Origins of Aggregate Fluctuations," NBER Working Papers 23750, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Alfaro, Martín, 2020. "Market structures in small open economies: Evidence from Denmark," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(4), pages 363-378.
    6. Alviarez, Vanessa, 2019. "Multinational production and comparative advantage," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 1-54.
    7. Zhao, Yong & Shi, Xunpeng & Song, Feng, 2020. "Has Chinese outward foreign direct investment in energy enhanced China's energy security?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 146(C).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D20 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - General
    • D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection
    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General
    • F40 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - General

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