How Wide is the Firm Border?
61 Pages Posted: 23 Oct 2019
Date Written: October, 2019
We examine the within- and across-firm shipment decisions of tens of thousands of goods-producing and goods-distributing establishments. This allows us to quantify the normally unobservable forces that determine firm boundaries; that is, which transactions are mediated by ownership control, as opposed to contracts or markets. We find firm boundaries to be an economically significant barrier to trade: Having an additional vertically integrated establishment in a given destination ZIP code has the same effect on shipment volumes as a 40 percent reduction in distance. These effects are larger for high value-to-weight products, for faraway destinations, for differentiated products, and for IT-intensive industries.
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