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Does trade raise income?: Evidence from the twentieth century

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  • Irwin, Douglas A.
  • Tervio, Marko

Abstract

Efforts to estimate the effects of international trade on a country's real income have been hampered by the failure to account for the endogeneity of trade. Frankel and Romer recently use a country's geographic attributes - notably its distance from potential trading partners - as an instrument to identify the effects of trade on income in 1985. Using data from the pre- World War I, the interwar, and the post-war periods, this paper finds that the Frankel-Romer result is robust to different time periods, i.e., that instrumenting for trade with geographic characteristics raises the estimated positive effect of trade on income by a substantial margin and, in most of our cases, the precision of those estimates. These results suggest that the downward bias of OLS estimates is systematic and may be due to measurement error, a potential source of which is that trade is an imperfect proxy for a host of economically beneficial interactions between countries. However, the results are not robust to the inclusion of another geographic variable, latitude (distance from the equator).

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of International Economics.

Volume (Year): 58 (2002)
Issue (Month): 1 (October)
Pages: 1-18

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Handle: RePEc:eee:inecon:v:58:y:2002:i:1:p:1-18

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505552

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  1. Elhanan Helpman, 1997. "R&D and Productivity: The International Connection," NBER Working Papers 6101, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Eichengreen, Barry & Irwin, Douglas A., 1995. "Trade blocs, currency blocs and the reorientation of world trade in the 1930s," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(1-2), pages 1-24, February.
  3. David H. Romer & Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1999. "Does Trade Cause Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 379-399, June.
  4. Frankel, Jeffrey & Rose, Andrew K., 2001. "An Estimate of the Effect of Common Currencies on Trade and Income," Working Paper Series rwp01-013, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  5. Theil, Henri & Galvez, Janet, 1995. "On Latitude and Affluence: The Equatorial Grand Canyon," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 163-66.
  6. Rodríguez, Francisco & Rodrik, Dani, 1999. "Trade Policy and Economic Growth: A Sceptic's Guide to the Cross-National Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 2143, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  8. Levine, Ross & Renelt, David, 1992. "A Sensitivity Analysis of Cross-Country Growth Regressions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 942-63, September.
  9. Prados de la Escosura, Leandro, 2000. "International Comparisons of Real Product, 1820-1990: An Alternative Data Set," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 1-41, January.
  10. Frankel, Jeffrey A & Rose, Andrew K, 2000. "An Estimate of the Effect of Currency Unions on Trade and Output," CEPR Discussion Papers 2631, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew Warner, 1995. "Economic Reform and the Process of Global Integration," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 26(1, 25th A), pages 1-118.
  12. Sala-i-Martin, Xavier, 1997. "I Just Ran Two Million Regressions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 178-83, May.
  13. Desmond McCarthy & Holger Wolf & Yi Wu, 2000. "The Growth Costs of Malaria," NBER Working Papers 7541, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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