Factor Intensity, Product Switching, and Productivity: Evidence from Chinese Exporters
HKIMR Working Paper No.25/2012
44 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2012
Date Written: October 31, 2012
Using Chinese manufacturing firm data over the period of 1998-2007, we find that firms become less capital-intensive after exporting, compared to similar non-exporting firms. To rationalize this finding that contrasts with existing evidence for most countries, we develop a variant of the multi-product model of Bernard, Redding, and Schott (2010) to consider products with varying capital intensity. In the model, firms in a labor-abundant country specialize in their core competency by allocating more resources to produce labor-intensive products after exporting. Consistent with the model predictions, we find evidence that the ex-ante more productive firms experience a smaller decline in capital intensity after exporting, but firms that experience a sharper decline in capital intensity after exporting have a larger increase in measured total factor productivity. Using transaction-level data, we confirm that Chinese exporters add new products that are less capital-intensive than their existing product portfolios and drop those that are more capital-intensive over time.
Keywords: exporters, productivity, factor intensity, multi-product firms
JEL Classification: F11, L16, O53
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