NBER Working Papers by David Atkin

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Working Papers

November 2014Exporting and Firm Performance: Evidence from a Randomized Trial
with Amit K. Khandelwal, Adam Osman: w20690
We conduct a randomized control trial that generates exogenous variation in the access to foreign markets for rug producers in Egypt. Combined with detailed survey data, we causally identify the impact of exporting on firm performance. Treatment firms report 15-25 percent higher profits and exhibit large improvements in quality alongside reductions in output per hour relative to control firms. These findings do not simply reflect firms being offered higher margins to manufacture high-quality products that take longer to produce. Instead, we find evidence of learning-by-exporting whereby exporting improves technical efficiency. First, treatment firms have higher productivity and quality after accounting for rug specifications. Second, when asked to produce an identical domestic rug using th...
July 2013The Caloric Costs of Culture: Evidence from Indian Migrants
Anthropologists have long documented substantial and persistent differences across social groups in the preferences and taboos for particular foods. One natural question to ask is whether such food cultures matter in an economic sense. In particular, can culture constrain caloric intake and contribute to malnutrition? To answer this question, I first document that inter-state migrants within India consume fewer calories per Rupee of food expenditure compared to their non-migrant neighbors, even for households with very low caloric intake. I then form a chain of evidence in support of an explanation based on culture: that migrants make nutritionally-suboptimal food choices due to cultural preferences for the traditional foods of their origin states. First, I focus on the preferences themsel...
August 2012Endogenous Skill Acquisition and Export Manufacturing in Mexico
This paper presents empirical evidence that the growth of export manufacturing in Mexico during a period of major trade reforms, the years 1986-2000, altered the distribution of education. I use variation in the timing of factory openings across municipalities to show that school dropout increased with local expansions in export manufacturing. The magnitudes I find suggest that for every twenty jobs created, one student dropped out of school at grade 9 rather than continuing through to grade 12. These effects are driven by the least-skilled export-manufacturing jobs which raised the opportunity cost of schooling for students at the margin.

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