Discussion paper

DP14281 Measuring Trade in Value Added with Firm-Level Data

Global Value Chains have proliferated in economic policy debates. Yet a key concept—trade in value added—is likely mismeasured because of sectoral aggregation bias stemming from reliance on input-output tables. This paper uses comprehensive firm-level data on domestic and international transactions to study this bias. We find that sectoral aggregation leads to overstated trade in value added. The magnitude of the bias varies across countries—at 2-5 p.p. of gross exports for Belgium and 17 p.p. for China. We study how the interplay between within-sector heterogeneities in firms' import and export intensities and size determine the magnitude of the bias.


Bems, R and A Kikkawa (2020), ‘DP14281 Measuring Trade in Value Added with Firm-Level Data‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 14281. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp14281