Abstract

We study how firm and foreign market characteristics affect the geographic distribution of exporters'sales. To this purpose, we use export intensities (the ratio of exports to sales) across destinations as our key measures of firms'relative involvement in heterogeneous foreign markets. In a representative sample of Italian manufacturing firms, we find a robust negative correlation between revenue-TFP and export intensity to low-income destinations and, more generally, that the correlations between export intensities and TFP are increasing in per capita income of the foreign destinations. We argue that these (and other) empirical regularities can arise from the interplay between (endogenous) cross-firm heterogeneity in product quality and cross-country heterogeneity in quality consumption. To test this conjecture, we propose a new strategy to proxy for product quality that allows to exploit some unique features of our dataset. Our results strongly suggest that firms producing higher-quality products tend to concentrate their sales in the domestic and other high-income markets.