The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
Analysis of firm-level panel data from three sub-Saharan African economies shows that exporting manufacturers have a total factor productivity premium of 11-28 percent. The data do not allow testing of whether these premiums are caused by selection of more efficient producers into exporting or by learning-by-exporting. By thinking about the mechanisms behind selectivity and learning, however, our finding of higher premiums for direct exporters and exporters to outside Africa could be interpreted as being consistent with learning-by-exporting effects. However, if learning-by-exporting is indeed present in the data, we cannot disentangle its effect on productivity from those of more traditionally recognized channels of international technology diffusion.