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The Margins of Global Sourcing: Theory and Evidence from U.S. Firms

  • Pol Antràs
  • Teresa C. Fort
  • Felix Tintelnot

This paper studies the extensive and intensive margins of firms' global sourcing decisions. We develop a quantifiable multi-country sourcing model in which heterogeneous firms self-select into importing based on their productivity and country-specific variables. The model delivers a simple closed-form solution for firm profits as a function of the countries from which a firm imports, as well as those countries' characteristics. In contrast to canonical models of exporting in which firm profits are additively separable across exporting markets, we show that global sourcing decisions naturally interact through the firm's cost function. In particular, the marginal change in profits from adding a country to the firm's set of potential sourcing locations depends on the number and characteristics of other countries in the set. Still, under plausible parametric restrictions, selection into importing features complementarity across markets and firms' sourcing strategies follow a hierarchical structure analogous to the one predicted by exporting models. Our quantitative analysis exploits these complementarities to distinguish between a country's potential as a marginal cost-reducing source of inputs and the fixed cost associated with sourcing from this country. Counterfactual exercises suggest that a shock to the potential benefits of sourcing from a country leads to significant and heterogeneous changes in sourcing across both countries and firms.

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File URL: http://scholar.harvard.edu/antras/node/154856
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Paper provided by Harvard University OpenScholar in its series Working Paper with number 154856.

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Date of creation: Jan 2014
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Handle: RePEc:qsh:wpaper:154856
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  1. Arnaud Costinot & Andres Rodriguez-Clare & Costas Arkolakis, 2010. "New Trade Models, Same Old Gains?," 2010 Meeting Papers 433, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Andrew B. Bernard & Teresa C. Fort, 2013. "Factoryless Goods Producers in the US," Working Papers 13-46, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  3. Barro, Robert J. & Lee, Jong Wha, 2013. "A new data set of educational attainment in the world, 1950–2010," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 184-198.
  4. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker Than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116, February.
  5. Panle Jia, 2008. "What Happens When Wal-Mart Comes to Town: An Empirical Analysis of the Discount Retailing Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(6), pages 1263-1316, November.
  6. Stefania Garetto, 2008. "Input Sourcing and Multinational Production," 2008 Meeting Papers 122, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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  9. Rubinstein, Yona & Helpman, Elhanan & Melitz, Marc, 2008. "Estimating Trade Flows: Trading Partners and Trading Volumes," Scholarly Articles 3228230, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  10. 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.
  11. Natalia Ramondo & Andrés Rodríguez-Clare, 2009. "Trade, Multinational Production, and the Gains from Openness," NBER Working Papers 15604, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Robert C. Feenstra & J. Bradford Jensen, 2012. "Evaluating Estimates of Materials Offshoring from U.S. Manufacturing," NBER Working Papers 17916, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Mark J. Melitz, 2002. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," NBER Working Papers 8881, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum & Francis Kramarz, 2011. "An Anatomy of International Trade: Evidence From French Firms," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 79(5), pages 1453-1498, 09.
  15. Ananth Ramanarayanan, 2012. "Imported Inputs and the Gains from Trade," 2012 Meeting Papers 612, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  16. Andrew B. Bernard & Andreas Moxnes & Karen Helene Ulltveit-Moe, 2014. "Two-Sided Heterogeneity and Trade," NBER Working Papers 20136, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Robert C. Johnson & Guillermo Noguera, 2012. "Fragmentation and Trade in Value Added over Four Decades," NBER Working Papers 18186, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Ethier, Wilfred J, 1982. "National and International Returns to Scale in the Modern Theory of International Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(3), pages 389-405, June.
  19. Peter Arendorf Bache & Anders Laugesen, 2013. "Monotone Comparative Statics for the Industry Composition," Economics Working Papers 2013-10, School of Economics and Management, University of Aarhus.
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