NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Trade Liberalization and Firm Dynamics

Ariel Burstein, Marc J. Melitz

NBER Working Paper No. 16960
Issued in April 2011
NBER Program(s):   IFM   ITI

In this paper, we analyze the transition dynamics associated with an economy's response to trade liberalization. We start by reviewing the recent literature that incorporates firm dynamics into models of international trade. We then build upon that literature to characterize the role of firm dynamics, export-market selection, firm-level innovation, sunk export costs, and firms' expectations regarding the time path of liberalization in generating those transition dynamics following trade liberalization. These modeling ingredients generate substantial aggregate transition dynamics as they shift and shape the endogenous distribution of firms over time. Our results show how the responses of trade volumes, innovation, and aggregate output can vary greatly over time depending on those modeling ingredients. This has important consequences for many issues in international economics that rely on predictions for the effects of globalization over time on those key aggregate outcomes.

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This paper was revised on October 27, 2011

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w16960

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