International Monetary Fund
Institutional Affiliation: University of California, Berkeley
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|October 2018||The Intensive Margin in Trade|
with Ana M. Fernandes, Peter J. Klenow, Denisse Pierola, Andrés Rodríguez-Clare: w25195
The Melitz model highlights the importance of the extensive margin (the number of firms exporting) for trade flows. Using the World Bank's Exporter Dynamics Database (EDD) featuring firm-level exports from 50 countries, we find that around 50% of variation in exports is along the extensive margin --- a quantitative victory for the Melitz framework. The remaining 50% on the intensive margin (exports per exporting firm) contradicts a special case of Melitz with Pareto-distributed firm productivity, which has become a tractable benchmark. This benchmark model predicts that, conditional on the fixed costs of exporting, all variation in exports across trading partners should occur on the extensive margin. We find that moving from a Pareto to a lognormal distribution allows the Melitz model to...