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Do African manufacturing firms learn from exporting?

By Arne Bigsten, Paul Collier, Stefan Dercon, Marcel Fachamps, Bernard Gauthier, Jan Willem Gunning, Abena Oduro, Remco Oostendorp, Catherine Pattillo, Mans Soderbom, Francis Teal and Albert Zeufack


In this paper, we use firm-level panel data for the manufacturing sector in four African countries to estimate the effect of exporting on efficiency. Estimating simultaneously a production function and an export regression that control for unobserved firm effects, we find both significant efficiency gains from exporting, supporting the learning- byexporting hypothesis, and evidence for self-selection of more efficient firms into exporting. The evidence of learning-by-exporting suggests that Africa has much to gain from orientating its manufacturing sector towards exporting.

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