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Exports and Profitability: First Evidence for German Manufacturing Firms

  • Fryges, Helmut
  • Wagner, Joachim

Using unique recently released nationally representative high-quality longitudinal data at the enterprise level for Germany, this paper presents the first comprehensive evidence on the relationship between exports and profitability. It documents that the positive profitability differential of exporters compared to non-exporters is statistically significant, though rather small, when observed firm characteristics and unobserved firm specific effects are controlled for. In contrast to nearly all empirical studies on the relationship between productivity and exports we do not find any evidence for selfselection of more profitable firms into export markets. Due to the sampling frame of the data used we cannot test the hypothesis that firms which start exporting perform better in the years after the start than their counterparts which do not start. Instead, we use a newly developed continuous treatment approach and show that exporting improves the profitability almost over the whole range of the export-sales ratio. Only firms that generate 90 percent and more of their total sales abroad do not benefit from exporting in terms of an increased rate of profit. This means, that the usually observed higher productivity of exporters is not completely absorbed by the extra costs of exporting or by higher wages paid by internationally active firms.

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File URL: http://econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/27562/1/dp08085.pdf
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Paper provided by ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research in its series ZEW Discussion Papers with number 08-085.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:zewdip:7427
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  1. Roberto Álvarez & Martin Andersson & Flora Bellone & Loren Brandt & Davide Castellani & Joze P. Damijan & Jose C. Fariñas & Ana M. Fernandes & Helmut Fryges & Holger Görg & David Greenaway & Stefanie , 2007. "Exports and Productivity: Comparable Evidence for 14 Countries," CIE Discussion Papers 2007-11, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Industrial Economics.
  2. Helmut Fryges & Joachim Wagner, 2008. "Exports and Productivity Growth: First Evidence from a Continuous Treatment Approach," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 144(4), pages 695-722, December.
  3. Andrew.B Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Stephen Redding & Peter K. Schott, 2007. "Firms in international trade," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3682, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  4. Schmalensee, Richard., 1987. "Inter-industry studies of structure and performance," Working papers 1874-87., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  5. Wagner, Joachim, 2005. "Exports and Productivity : A survey of the evidence from firm level data," HWWA Discussion Papers 319, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWA).
  6. Thorsten Schank & Claus Schnabel & Joachim Wagner, 2006. "Do exporters really pay higher wages? First evidence from German linked employer-employee data," Working Paper Series in Economics 28, University of Lüneburg, Institute of Economics.
  7. Lucia Foster & John Haltiwanger & Chad Syverson, 2008. "Reallocation, Firm Turnover, and Efficiency: Selection on Productivity or Profitability?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(1), pages 394-425, March.
  8. Thierry Mayer & Gianmarco Ottaviano, 2008. "The Happy Few: The Internationalisation of European Firms," Intereconomics: Review of European Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 43(3), pages 135-148, May.
  9. Wagner, Joachim, 2002. "Unobserved firm heterogeneity and the size-exports nexus : evidence from German panel data," HWWA Discussion Papers 194, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWA).
  10. repec:ner:tilbur:urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-284201 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. Leslie E. Papke & Jeffrey M. Wooldridge, 1993. "Econometric Methods for Fractional Response Variables with an Application to 401(k) Plan Participation Rates," NBER Technical Working Papers 0147, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/10147 is not listed on IDEAS
  13. Thierry Mayer & Gianmarco Ottaviano, 2007. "The happy few: the internationalisation of European firms New facts based on firm-level evidence," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/10147, Sciences Po.
  14. Hennart, J.M.A., 2007. "The theoretical rationale for a multinationality - performance relationship," Other publications TiSEM b4c7bdd4-bfda-467f-9886-3, School of Economics and Management.
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