University of Lüneburg Working Paper Series in Economics 292
A stylized fact from the emerging literature on the micro-econometrics of international trade and a central implication of the heterogeneous firm models from the new new trade theory is that exporters are more productive than non-exporters. However, many firms from the lower end of the productivity distribution are exporters. Germany is a case in point. A recent study reports that these low-productivity exporters are not marginal exporters defined according to the share of exports in total sales, or export participation over time, or the number of goods exported, or the number of countries exported to. This paper documents that low-productive exporters are competitive because they export high-quality goods. The quality of exports is much higher among exporters from the lower end of the productivity distribution than among highly productive exporters.