The Role of Extensive and Intensive Margins and Export Growth

Tibor Besedes, Thomas J. Prusa

NBER Working Paper No. 13628
Issued in November 2007
NBER Program(s):   ITI

We investigate and compare countries' export growth based on their performance at the extensive and intensive export margins. Our empirical approach is motivated by an extension to the Melitz (2003) model of heterogeneous firms in which exporters are subject to a one-time sunk cost and also a per-period fixed cost. With imperfect information a firm may enter export markets but shortly exit when it learns its per- period fixed costs. We apply this insight to disaggregated export data and confirm that indeed most export relationships are very short lived. We then show that the survival issue is a significant factor in explaining differences in long run export performance. We find that developing countries would experience significantly higher export growth if they were able to improve their performance with respect to the two key components of the intensive margin: survival and deepening.

download in pdf format
   (303 K)

email paper

This paper is available as PDF (303 K) or via email.

A data appendix is available at

This paper was revised on August 21, 2010

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w13628

Published: Besedes, Tibor & Prusa, Thomas J., 2011. "The role of extensive and intensive margins and export growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(2), pages 371-379, November. citation courtesy of

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Fuchs, Krueger, and Poterba w6151 Why do Economists Disagree About Policy?
Qian w14973 Quantity-Quality and the One Child Policy:The Only-Child Disadvantage in School Enrollment in Rural China
Arkolakis and Muendler w16641 The Extensive Margin of Exporting Products: A Firm-level Analysis
Bernard, Jensen, Redding, and Schott w14662 The Margins of U.S. Trade (Long Version)
Helpman, Melitz, and Rubinstein w12927 Estimating Trade Flows: Trading Partners and Trading Volumes
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us