The Impact of Trade Liberalization on Productivity

Evidence from India's Formal and Informal Manufacturing Sectors

Published in: Journal of International Economics, Volume 85, Issue 2 (November 2011), Pages 292-301

Posted on RAND.org on September 19, 2018

by Shanthi Nataraj

Read More

Access further information on this document at Journal of International Economics

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

Despite a large literature investigating the impacts of trade on firm productivity, there is almost no evidence on how small firms react to trade liberalization. Using a unique dataset of firm-level surveys that are representative of the entire Indian manufacturing industry, I show that India's unilateral reduction in final goods tariffs increased the average productivity of small, informal firms, which account for 80% of Indian manufacturing employment but have been excluded from previous studies. In contrast, the increase in productivity among larger, formal firms was driven primarily by the concurrent reduction in input tariffs. By examining the effect of the tariff liberalization on the distributions of productivity and firm size, I find evidence consistent with the exit of the smallest, least productive firms from the informal sector. In addition, I find that although the decline in final goods tariffs did not significantly impact average formal sector productivity, it did increase productivity among the top quantiles of the distribution.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/principles.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.