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Export superstars

  • Freund, Caroline
  • Pierola, Martha Denisse

This paper shows that the top 1 percent of exporters critically shape trade patterns, using firm-level data from 32 countries. In particular, variation in average firm size (the intensive margin) explains over two thirds of the variation in the sector distribution of exports across countries, the remaining share is explained by variation in the number of firms (the extensive margin). Variation in average firm size across sectors is largely driven by variation in the sectoral distribution of exports from the top 1 percent of firms in a country -- export superstars. In contrast, the sectoral distribution of exports from the remaining 99 percent of firms is more similar across countries, and the distribution of the total number of firms across sectors is very similar across countries. This paper also finds that current export superstars typically entered the export market relatively large, reached the top 1 percent after less than three years of exporting, and account for more than half of a country's total exports, export growth and diversification. The results underscore the role of individual firms in determining both trade volumes and trade patterns.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 6222.

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Date of creation: 01 Oct 2012
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6222
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  1. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Stephen Redding & Peter K. Schott, 2010. "Wholesalers and Retailers in U.S. Trade (Long Version)," CEP Discussion Papers dp0968, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  2. Cebeci, Tolga & Fernandes, Ana M. & Freund, Caroline & Pierola, Martha Denisse, 2012. "Exporter dynamics database," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6229, The World Bank.
  3. Andrew Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Stephen Redding & Peter Schott, 2007. "Firms in International Trade," Working Papers 07-14, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  4. John C. Haltiwanger & Ron S. Jarmin & Javier Miranda, 2010. "Who Creates Jobs? Small vs. Large vs. Young," NBER Working Papers 16300, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Jonathan Eaton & Marcela Eslava & Maurice Kugler & James Tybout, 2007. "Export Dynamics in Colombia: Firm-Level Evidence," NBER Working Papers 13531, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Julian di Giovanni & Andrei A. Levchenko, 2009. "Firm Entry, Trade, and Welfare in Zipf's World," Working Papers 591, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
  7. Chang-Tai Hsieh & Peter J. Klenow, 2012. "The Life Cycle of Plants in India and Mexico," NBER Working Papers 18133, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Xavier Gabaix & Rustam Ibragimov, 2007. "Rank-1/2: A Simple Way to Improve the OLS Estimation of Tail Exponents," NBER Technical Working Papers 0342, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Stephen J. Redding & Peter K. Schott, 2010. "Wholesalers and Retailers in US Trade," Working Paper Series WP10-10, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  10. JaeBin Ahn & Amit K. Khandelwal & Shang-Jin Wei, 2010. "The Role of Intermediaries in Facilitating Trade," NBER Working Papers 15706, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel S. Kortum & Sebastian Sotelo, 2012. "International Trade: Linking Micro and Macro," NBER Working Papers 17864, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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