Exporting and Plant-Level Efficiency Gains: It's in the Measure

Alvaro Garcia Marin, Nico Voigtländer

NBER Working Paper No. 19033
Issued in May 2013
NBER Program(s):   IO   ITI   PR

While there is strong evidence for productivity-driven selection into exporting, previous research has mostly failed to identify export-related efficiency gains within plants. This nonresult is derived from revenue productivity, thus also reflecting prices. Using a census panel of Chilean manufacturing plants, we first confirm the non-result for revenue productivity. We then compute plant-product level marginal cost as an efficiency measure that is not affected by prices. We find within-plant efficiency gains of 15-25%, the same order of magnitude as selection effects across plants. Evidence suggests that technology upgrading in combination with export entry is an important driver behind these gains.

A non-technical summary of this paper is available in the August 2013 NBER digest.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Digest by email.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from ($5) for electronic delivery.

Information about Free Papers

You should expect a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a ".GOV" domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

If you usually get free papers at work/university but do not at home, you can either connect to your work VPN or proxy (if any) or elect to have a link to the paper emailed to your work email address below. The email address must be connected to a subscribing college, university, or other subscribing institution. Gmail and other free email addresses will not have access.


A data appendix is available at

This paper was revised on October 7, 2013

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w19033

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Helpman w19057 Foreign Trade and Investment: Firm-Level Perspectives
Charles, Hurst, and Notowidigdo w18949 Manufacturing Decline, Housing Booms, and Non-Employment
Autor, Dorn, and Hanson w18938 Untangling Trade and Technology: Evidence from Local Labor Markets
Molina and Muendler w18962 Preparing to Export
Jacobsen and van Benthem w19055 Vehicle Scrappage and Gasoline Policy
NBER Videos

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

Contact Us