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Imported Inputs and the Gains from Trade

  • Ananth Ramanarayanan

    (University of Western Ontario)

The bulk of international trade takes place in intermediate inputs as opposed to goods for final consumption. Studies of firm-level data show that there is substantial heterogeneity in the share of inputs that are imported by different firms, and that a firm's productivity increases with the quantity and variety of inputs that it imports. This paper develops a model to quantify the contributions of firm-level productivity gains to aggregate productivity and welfare gains from trade. In the model, heterogeneous firms choose the fraction of their inputs to import. Importing a higher fraction of inputs raises firm-level productivity, but requires higher up-front fixed costs. Therefore, firms with different inherent profitability will vary in how much they import and the productivity they gain from doing so. This heterogeneity provides aggregate productivity and welfare gains from trade that would not exist in a world in which firms used identical input bundles. These gains are consistent with data on specific trade liberalization episodes that show large firm-level productivity gains attributed to higher imports of intermediate inputs.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2012 Meeting Papers with number 612.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed012:612
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  1. Liu, Lili, 1993. "Entry-exit, learning, and productivity change Evidence from Chile," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 217-242, December.
  2. Pinelopi Goldberg & Amit Khandelwal & Nina Pavcnik & Petia Topalova, 2009. "Imported Intermediate Inputs and Domestic Product Growth: Evidence from India," Working Papers 1179, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
  3. Pierre Biscourp & Francis Kramarz, 2004. "Employment, Skill Structure and International Trade : Firm-level Evidence for France," Working Papers 2004-28, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
  4. Gopinath, Gita & Neiman, Brent, 2014. "Trade Adjustment and Productivity in Large Crises," Scholarly Articles 12330899, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. Sanyal, Kalyan K & Jones, Ronald W, 1982. "The Theory of Trade in Middle Products," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(1), pages 16-31, March.
  6. Hiroyuki Kasahara & Joel Rodrigue, 2005. "Does the Use of Imported Intermediates Increase Productivity? Plant-Level Evidence," University of Western Ontario, Economic Policy Research Institute Working Papers 20057, University of Western Ontario, Economic Policy Research Institute.
  7. Costas Arkolakis, 2010. "Market Penetration Costs and the New Consumers Margin in International Trade," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(6), pages 1151 - 1199.
  8. Krugman, Paul R & Venables, Anthony J, 1995. "Globalization and the Inequality of Nations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(4), pages 857-80, November.
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