Selection and Market Reallocation: Productivity Gains from Multinational Production

50 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2012 Last revised: 2 Dec 2016

See all articles by Laura Alfaro

Laura Alfaro

Harvard University

Maggie Xiaoyang Chen

George Washington University

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: November 2016


Assessing productivity gains from multinational production has been a vital topic of economic research and policy debate. Positive productivity gains are often attributed to productivity spillovers; however, an alternative, much less emphasized channel is selection and market reallocation whereby competition leads to factor reallocation both within and between domestic firms and exits of the least productive firms. We investigate the roles of these different mechanisms in determining aggregate productivity gains using a unifying framework that explores the mechanisms’ distinct predictions on the distributions of domestic firms: Within-firm productivity improvement shifts the productivity distribution rightward while selection and market reallocation shifts the revenue and employment distributions leftward and raises left truncations. Using a rich cross-country firm panel dataset, we find significant evidence of both mechanisms and effects of competition in product, technology and labor space. However, selection and market reallocation account for the majority of aggregate productivity gains, suggesting that ignoring this channel could lead to substantial bias in understanding the nature of productivity gains from multinational production.

Keywords: Productivity gains, multinational production, selection, market reallocation, and within-firm productivity

JEL Classification: F2, O1, O4

Suggested Citation

Alfaro, Laura and Chen, Maggie Xiaoyang, Selection and Market Reallocation: Productivity Gains from Multinational Production (November 2016). Harvard Business School BGIE Unit Working Paper No. 12-111, Available at SSRN: or

Laura Alfaro (Contact Author)

Harvard University ( email )

Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Maggie Xiaoyang Chen

George Washington University ( email )

710 21st Street NW
Washington, DC 20052
United States

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