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The better you are the stronger it makes you : evidence on the asymmetric impact of liberalization

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  • Iacovone, Leonardo

Abstract

This paper studies how liberalization affects productivity growth using micro-level plant data. While previous studies have already shown the existence of a positive relationship between competition and economic performance, the novelty of this paper is that it analyzes not only the average impact of liberalization, but also goes"beyond the average"and shows how the liberalization can affect dissimilar plants in a different way. The author first develops a model which predicts that, while the impact of liberalization on productivity growth is positive"on average", more advanced firms tend to benefit more. In fact, liberalization generates two competing effects: on one side it spurs more innovative efforts because of the increased entry threat by foreign competitors, on the other side, enhanced competition curtails expected profits and reduces the funds available to finance innovative activities. The pro-competitive effect is weaker for less advanced firms as for them it is harder to catch-up with the"technology frontier". These predictions are then tested focusing on Mexican plants during the NAFTA liberalization. The results show that a 1 percent reduction in tariffs spurred productivity growth between 4 and 8 percent on average. However, for backward firms this effect is much weaker if not close to zero, otherwise for more advanced ones this effect is stronger with productivity growing between 11 and 13 percent. Consistent with the theoretical model the results are stronger in those sectors where the scope for innovative activities is more pronounced. These results are particularly important for policy makers because they suggest that while increasing competition may be good in spurring average productivity, it is also true that this effect does not hold for all type of firms, in particular more backward firms may need some complementary support policy to upgrade their capacities and keep up with the more competitive environment.

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  • Iacovone, Leonardo, 2009. "The better you are the stronger it makes you : evidence on the asymmetric impact of liberalization," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4930, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4930
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    Cited by:

    1. Daniela Maggioni, 2013. "Productivity Dispersion and its Determinants: The Role of Import Penetration," Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade, Springer, vol. 13(4), pages 537-561, December.
    2. Javier Changoluisa & Michael Fritsch, 2016. "New Business Formation and Incumbents' Perception of Competitive Pressure," Jena Economic Research Papers 2016-019, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    3. Delia Baghdasaryan & Lisbeth Cour & Cédric Schneider, 2016. "Which Companies Benefit from Liberalization? a Study of the Influence of Initial Productivity," Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade, Springer, vol. 16(1), pages 101-125, March.
    4. Fritsch, Michael & Changoluisa, Javier, 2017. "New business formation and the productivity of manufacturing incumbents: Effects and mechanisms," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 237-259.
    5. McManus, T. Clay & Schaur, Georg, 2016. "The effects of import competition on worker health," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 160-172.
    6. Antoniades, Alexis, 2015. "Heterogeneous Firms, Quality, and Trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(2), pages 263-273.
    7. Bas, M. & Paunov, C., 2014. "The unequal effect of India's industrial liberalization on firms' decision to innovate: Do business conditions matter?," MERIT Working Papers 044, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Economic Theory&Research; Labor Policies; E-Business; Political Economy; Education for Development (superceded);

    JEL classification:

    • D22 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Empirical Analysis
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure
    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance
    • L60 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - General
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives

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