John J. Stevens

Division of Research and Statistics
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
Washington, DC 20551
Tel: 202-452-2206

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NBER Working Papers and Publications

June 2010Exports, Borders, Distance, and Plant Size
with Thomas J. Holmes: w16046
The fact that large manufacturing plants export relatively more than small plants has been at the foundation of much work in the international trade literature. We examine this fact using Census micro data on plant shipments from the Commodity Flow Survey. We show the fact is not entirely an international trade phenomenon; part of it can be accounted for by the effect of distance, distinct from any border effect. Export destinations tend to be further than domestic destinations, and large plants tend to ship further distances even to domestic locations, as compared with small plants. We develop an extension of the Melitz (2003) model and use it to set up an analysis with model interpretations of ratios between large plant and small plant shipments that can be calculated with the data. ...

Published: Holmes, Thomas J. & Stevens, John J., 2012. "Exports, borders, distance, and plant size," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 91-103. citation courtesy of

April 2010An Alternative Theory of the Plant Size Distribution with an Application to Trade
with Thomas J. Holmes: w15957
There is wide variation in the sizes of manufacturing plants, even within the most narrowly defined industry classifications used by statistical agencies. Standard theories attribute all such size differences to productivity differences. This paper develops an alternative theory in which industries are made up of large plants producing standardized goods and small plants making custom or specialty goods. It uses confidential Census data to estimate the parameters of the model, including estimates of plant counts in the standardized and specialty segments by industry. The estimated model fits the data relatively well compared with estimates based on standard approaches. In particular, the predictions of the model for the impacts of a surge in imports from China are consistent with what hap...

An Alternative Theory of the Plant Size Distribution, with Geography and Intra- and International Trade,” forthcoming Journal of Political Economy, with John J. Stevens

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