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Firm Heterogeneity and the Geography of International Trade

  • David Greenaway
  • Joakim Gullstrand
  • Richard Kneller

A key distinction which has emerged from heterogeneous firm models of international trade is that of exporting at the intensive and extensive margins. Empirically however, the two are often conflated, leading to biased estimates of the impact of falling trade costs. This paper exploits detailed firm level data, which includes information on the destination of exports to investigate causal links between enterprise productivity and the number of markets a firm serves as well as the relative size of those markets. Our focus is Sweden’s Food and Beverage sector, which is not only highly open, but has been subject to policy induced changes in trade costs (as well as falling natural barriers) over our sample period. We have data on almost 10,000 firm / time / destination observations across 6 years and 138 destinations. Our results confirm that conflating adjustment at the internal and external margins does bias trade resistance effects. Combining detailed firm specific information with data on destination characteristics confirms the importance of a range of country specific characteristics (including exchange rate risk) and facilitates the estimation of both distance and market size elasticities, from firm level data.

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Paper provided by University of Nottingham, GEP in its series Discussion Papers with number 08/41.

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Handle: RePEc:not:notgep:08/41
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  1. 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.
  2. J Bradford Jensen & Andrew B Bernard, 2001. "Why Some Firms Export," Working Papers 01-05, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  3. Andrew B. Bernard & Joachim Wagner, 1998. "Export Entry and Exit by German Firms," NBER Working Papers 6538, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum & Francis Kramarz, 2004. "Dissecting trade: firms, industries, and export destinations," Staff Report 332, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  5. Marc J. Melitz, 2003. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(6), pages 1695-1725, November.
  6. David Greenaway & Richard Kneller, 2007. "Firm heterogeneity, exporting and foreign direct investment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(517), pages F134-F161, 02.
  7. 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.
  8. Marc J. Melitz & Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano, 2005. "Market Size, Trade, and Productivity," NBER Working Papers 11393, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Karolina Ekholm & Rikard Forslid & James R. Markusen, 2007. "Export-Platform Foreign Direct Investment," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 5(4), pages 776-795, 06.
  10. Yeaple, Stephen Ross, 2003. "The complex integration strategies of multinationals and cross country dependencies in the structure of foreign direct investment," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 293-314, August.
  11. Elhanan Helpman & Marc Melitz & Yona Rubinstein, 2007. "Estimating Trade Flows: Trading Partners and Trading Volumes," NBER Working Papers 12927, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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