Many of the facts about the extensive margin of trade—which firms export, and how many products are sent to how many destinations—are consistent with a surprisingly large class of trade models because of the sparse nature of trade data. We propose a statistical model to account for sparsity, formalizing the assignment of trade shipments to country, product, and firm categories as balls falling into bins. The balls-and-bins model quantitatively reproduces the pattern of zero product- and firm-level trade flows across export destinations, and the frequency of multiproduct, multidestination exporters. In contrast, balls-and-bins overpredicts the fraction of exporting firms.
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American Economic Review
The American Economic Review is a general-interest economics journal. Established in 1911, the AER is among the nation's oldest and most respected scholarly journals in the economics profession.