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The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity

  • Mark J. Melitz

This paper builds a dynamic industry model with heterogeneous firms that explains why international trade induces reallocations of resources among firms in an industry. The paper shows how the exposure to trade will induce only the more productive firms to enter the export market (while some less productive firms continue to produce only for the domestic market) and will simultaneously force the least productive firms to exit. It then shows how further increases in the industry's exposure to trade lead to additional inter-firm reallocations towards more productive firms. These phenomena have been empirically documented but can not be explained by current general equilibrium trade models, because they rely on a representative firm framework. The paper also shows how the aggregate industry productivity growth generated by the reallocations contributes to a welfare gain, thus highlighting a benefit from trade that has not been examined theoretically before. The paper adapts Hopenhayn's (1992a) dynamic industry model to monopolistic competition in a general equilibrium setting. In so doing, the paper provides an extension of Krugman's (1980) trade model that incorporates firm level productivity differences. Firms with different productivity levels coexist in an industry because each firm faces initial uncertainty concerning its productivity before making an irreversible investment to enter the industry. Entry into the export market is also costly, but the firm's decision to export occurs after it gains knowledge of its productivity.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8881.

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Date of creation: Apr 2002
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Publication status: published as Melitz, Marc J. "The Impact Of Trade On Intra-Industry Reallocations And Aggregate Industry Productivity," Econometrica, 2003, v71(6,Nov), 1695-1725.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8881
Note: ITI
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  1. John Haltiwanger & C J Krizan & Lucia Foster, 1998. "Aggregate Productivity Growth: Lessons From Microeconomic Evidence," Working Papers 98-12, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  2. G. Steven Olley & Ariel Pakes, 1992. "The Dynamics of Productivity in the Telecommunications Equipment Industry," NBER Working Papers 3977, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Bernard, A., 1997. "Exceptional Exporter Performance: Cause, Effect, or Both?," Working papers 97-21, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  4. Krugman, Paul R., 1979. "Increasing returns, monopolistic competition, and international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 469-479, November.
  5. Sofronis Clerides & Saul Lach & James Tybout, 1996. "Is "learning-by-exporting" important? Micro-dynamic evidence from Colombia, Mexico and Morocco," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 96-30, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  6. Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1977. "Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(3), pages 297-308, June.
  7. Nina Pavcnik, 2002. "Trade Liberalization, Exit, and Productivity Improvements: Evidence from Chilean Plants," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(1), pages 245-276.
  8. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen, 1999. "Exporting and Productivity," NBER Working Papers 7135, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Andrew B. Bernard & Jonathan Eaton & J. Bradford Jensen & Samuel Kortum, 2003. "Plants and Productivity in International Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1268-1290, September.
  10. Krugman, Paul, 1980. "Scale Economies, Product Differentiation, and the Pattern of Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(5), pages 950-59, December.
  11. John C. Haltiwanger, 1997. "Measuring and analyzing aggregate fluctuations: the importance of building from microeconomic evidence," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 55-78.
  12. Aw, Bee Yan & Chung, Sukkyun & Roberts, Mark J, 2000. "Productivity and Turnover in the Export Market: Micro-level Evidence from the Republic of Korea and Taiwan (China)," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 14(1), pages 65-90, January.
  13. Tybout, James R. & Westbrook, M. Daniel, 1995. "Trade liberalization and the dimensions of efficiency change in Mexican manufacturing industries," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1-2), pages 53-78, August.
  14. Basu, Susanto & Fernald, John G., 2002. "Aggregate productivity and aggregate technology," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(6), pages 963-991, June.
  15. Davis, Steven J. & Haltiwanger, John, 1999. "Gross job flows," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 41, pages 2711-2805 Elsevier.
  16. Roberts, Mark J & Tybout, James R, 1997. "The Decision to Export in Colombia: An Empirical Model of Entry with Sunk Costs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(4), pages 545-64, September.
  17. Feldman, Mark & Gilles, Christian, 1985. "An expository note on individual risk without aggregate uncertainty," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 26-32, February.
  18. Levinsohn, James, 1999. "Employment responses to international liberalization in Chile," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 321-344, April.
  19. Montagna, Catia, 1995. "Monopolistic Competition with Firm-Specific Costs," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(2), pages 318-28, April.
  20. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1982. "Selection and the Evolution of Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 649-70, May.
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