Firm Heterogeneity and the Structure of U.S. Multinational Activity: An Empirical Analysis
We use firm-level data for U.S. multinational enterprises (MNE) and the model of firm heterogeneity first presented in Helpman, Melitz, and Yeaple (2004) to make four empirical contributions. First, we show that the most productive U.S. firms invest in a larger number of foreign countries and sell more in each country in which they operate. Second, we assess the importance of firm heterogeneity in the structure of MNE activity. Third, we use the model to identify the mechanisms through which country characteristics affect the structure of MNE activity. Finally, we provide a systematic assessment of the model's shortcomings in order to inform the development of new theory.
The statistical analysis of firm-level data on U.S. multinational corporations reported in this study was conducted at the International Investment Division, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, under arrangements that maintained legal confidentiality requirements. Views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Bureau of Economic Analysis. I thank Peter Egger, Richard Kneller, Bill Zeile, and Jonathan Eaton for their comments. The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Yeaple, Stephen Ross, 2009. "Firm heterogeneity and the structure of U.S. multinational activity," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(2), pages 206-215, July.