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Where do firms export, how much, and why?

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  • Martina Lawless
  • Karl Whelan

Abstract

The empirical finding that exporting firms are more productive on average than non-exporters has provoked a large theoretical literature based on models such as Melitz (2003), where more productive firms are more likely to overcome costs associated with trade. This paper provides a systematic empirical assessment of the Melitz framework using a unique Irish dataset that includes information on destinations and firm characteristics such as productivity. We find a number of interesting deviations from the model’s predictions including a high degree of unpredictable idiosyncratic participation in export markets by firms, a relatively weak positive correlation between the extent of export participation and export sales, and a limited role for productivity in explaining firm exporting behavior. We illustrate the effect of firm heterogeneity on gravity regressions of aggregate trade flows and show how past exporting to a particular market has a strong impact on the current probability of exporting there.

Suggested Citation

  • Martina Lawless & Karl Whelan, 2008. "Where do firms export, how much, and why?," Working Papers 200821, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucn:wpaper:200821
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10197/971
    File Function: First version, 2008
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Lawless, Martina, 2009. "Firm export dynamics and the geography of trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 245-254, April.
    2. Bernard, Andrew B. & Bradford Jensen, J., 1999. "Exceptional exporter performance: cause, effect, or both?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 1-25, February.
    3. 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.
    4. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Stephen J. Redding & Peter K. Schott, 2007. "Firms in International Trade," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(3), pages 105-130, Summer.
    5. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum & Francis Kramarz, 2004. "Dissecting Trade: Firms, Industries, and Export Destinations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 150-154, May.
    6. 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, September.
    7. Anne-Célia Disdier & Keith Head, 2008. "The Puzzling Persistence of the Distance Effect on Bilateral Trade," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(1), pages 37-48, February.
    8. Jonathan Eaton, Marcela Eslava, Maurice Kugler,James Tybout, 1970. "Export Dynamics in Colombia: Firm-Level Evidence," Working Papers eg0036, Wilfrid Laurier University, Department of Economics, revised 1970.
    9. Elhanan Helpman & Marc Melitz & Yona Rubinstein, 2008. "Estimating Trade Flows: Trading Partners and Trading Volumes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(2), pages 441-487.
    10. 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.
    11. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
    12. 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 545-564, September.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Di Comite, Francesco & Thisse, Jacques-François & Vandenbussche, Hylke, 2014. "Verti-zontal differentiation in export markets," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(1), pages 50-66.
    2. Berman, Nicolas & Berthou, Antoine & Héricourt, Jérôme, 2015. "Export dynamics and sales at home," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(2), pages 298-310.
    3. Julian Emami Namini & Giovanni Facchini & Ricardo A. Lopez, 2011. "Export Growth and Factor Market Competition: Theory and Evidence," Development Working Papers 309, Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano, University of Milano, revised 09 May 2011.
    4. Martina Lawless, 2013. "Marginal Distance: Does Export Experience Reduce Firm Trade Costs?," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 24(5), pages 819-841, November.
    5. Daniela Federici & Valentino Parisi, 2012. "Corporate Taxation and Exports," Working Papers 2012-01, Universita' di Cassino, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche.
    6. repec:esr:resser:bkmnext335 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Matthew Cole, 2011. "Not all trade restrictions are created equally," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 147(3), pages 411-427, September.
    8. Munch, Jakob R. & Nguyen, Daniel X., 2014. "Decomposing firm-level sales variation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 317-334.
    9. shepherd, Ben, 2010. "Geographical Diversification of Developing Country Exports," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(9), pages 1217-1228, September.
    10. Jan Jørgensen & Philipp Schröder & Zhihao Yu, 2012. "Globalization beyond partitioning: back to Krugman’s world," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 148(1), pages 73-87, April.
    11. Defever, F. & Riaño, A., 2017. "Twin Peaks," Working Papers 17/02, Department of Economics, City University London.
    12. Jienwatcharamongkhol, Viroj, 2012. "Distance Sensitivity of Export: A Firm-Product Level Approach," Working Papers 2012:33, Lund University, Department of Economics.
    13. David Hummels & Kwan Yong Lee, 2017. "The Income Elasticity of Import Demand: Micro Evidence and An Application," NBER Working Papers 23338, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. N. Berman & V. Rebeyrol & V. Vicard, 2015. "Demand learning and firm dynamics: evidence from exporters," Working papers 551, Banque de France.
    15. Nguyen, Daniel X., 2012. "Demand uncertainty: Exporting delays and exporting failures," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(2), pages 336-344.
    16. Matthew T. Cole, 2009. "The choice of modeling firm heterogeneity and trade restrictions," Working Papers 200920, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    17. Kichun Kang & Phyllis Keys & Yoon S. Shin, 2016. "Free Trade Agreements And Bridgehead Effect: Evidence From Korea–Chile Fta," The Singapore Economic Review (SER), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 61(05), pages 1-17, December.
    18. repec:spr:empeco:v:54:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s00181-016-1220-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Daniela Federici & Valentino Parisi, 2014. "Corporate Taxation and Exports: Evidence from Italian Firm-Level Data," Review of Economics & Finance, Better Advances Press, Canada, vol. 4, pages 23-38, May.
    20. Cole, Matthew T. & Davies, Ronald B., 2011. "Strategic tariffs, tariff jumping, and heterogeneous firms," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 480-496, May.
    21. Peter McQuade, 2010. "The Evolution of International Trade on the Extensive and Intensive Margins," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp325, IIIS, revised Apr 2010.
    22. Jienwatcharamongkhol, Viroj, 2012. "Distance Sensitivity of Export: A Firm-Product Level Approach," Ratio Working Papers 201, The Ratio Institute.
    23. Philipp J.H. Schröder & Allan Sørensen, 2010. "The Theoretical Equivalent of Empirically Measurable Exporter Productivity when Firms are Heterogeneous," Economics Working Papers 2010-06, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.
    24. Viroj Jienwatcharamongkhol, 2014. "Distance Sensitivity of Export: A Firm-Product Level Approach," Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 531-554, December.
    25. Julian Emami Namini & Giovanni Facchini & Ricardo A. Lopez, 2011. "Export Growth and Factor Market Competition: Theory and Some Evidence," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 11-013/2, Tinbergen Institute.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Exports--Ireland; Industrial productivity--Ireland; Export trading companies--Ireland;

    JEL classification:

    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade

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