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Gravity with Gravitas: A Solution to the Border Puzzle

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  • James E. Anderson

    ()
    (Boston College)

  • Eric van Wincoop

    (Federal Reserve Bank of New York)

Abstract

The gravity model has been widely used to infer substantial trade flow effects of institutions such as customs unions and exchange rate mechanisms. McCallum [1995] found that the US-Canada border led to trade between provinces that was a factor 22 (2,200%) times trade between states and provinces, a spectacular puzzle in light of the low formal barriers on this border. We show that the gravity model usually estimated does not correspond to the theory behind it. We solve the "border puzzle" by applying the theory seriously. We find that national borders reduce trade between the US and Canada by about 40%, while reducing trade among other industrialized countries by about 30%. The spectacular McCallum headline number is the result of a combination of omitted variables bias and the small size of the Canadian economy.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Boston College Department of Economics in its series Boston College Working Papers in Economics with number 485.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: 15 Nov 2000
Date of revision:
Publication status: published, American Economic Review, 2003, 93, 170-92
Handle: RePEc:boc:bocoec:485

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Keywords: gravity; bordered effects;

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References

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  1. McCallum, John, 1995. "National Borders Matter: Canada-U.S. Regional Trade Patterns," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 615-23, June.
  2. Rose, Andrew, 1999. "One Money, One Market: Estimating the Effect of Common Currencies on Trade," Seminar Papers 678, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  3. Jeffrey Frankel & Shang-Jin Wei, 1996. "ASEAN in a regional perspective," Pacific Basin Working Paper Series 96-02, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  4. John F. Helliwell, 1996. "Do National Borders Matter for Quebec's Trade?," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 29(3), pages 507-22, August.
  5. Brenton, Paul & DiMauro, Francesca & Lücke, Matthias, 1998. "Economic integration and FDI: an empirical analysis of foreign investment in the EU and in Central and Eastern Europe," Kiel Working Papers 890, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
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  7. Anderson, James E, 1979. "A Theoretical Foundation for the Gravity Equation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(1), pages 106-16, March.
  8. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth Rogoff & Ben Bernanke & Kenneth Rogoff, . "The Six Major Puzzles in International Macroeconomics: Is there a Common Cause?," Working Paper 32326, Harvard University OpenScholar.
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  10. Deardorff, A.V., 1995. "Determinants of Bilateral Trade : Does Gravity Work in a Neoclassical World?," Papers 95-05, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
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  18. Andrew K. Rose, 2000. "One money, one market: the effect of common currencies on trade," Economic Policy, CEPR & CES & MSH, vol. 15(30), pages 7-46, 04.
  19. Kei-Mu Yi, 2000. "Can vertical specialization explain the growth of world trade?," Staff Reports 96, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  20. Keith Head & John Ries, 2001. "Increasing Returns versus National Product Differentiation as an Explanation for the Pattern of U.S.-Canada Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 858-876, September.
  21. Andrew B. Bernard & Joachim Wagner, 1998. "Export Entry and Exit by German Firms," NBER Working Papers 6538, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Feenstra, Robert C, 1994. "New Product Varieties and the Measurement of International Prices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(1), pages 157-77, March.
  23. Shang-Jin Wei, 1996. "Intra-National versus International Trade: How Stubborn are Nations in Global Integration?," NBER Working Papers 5531, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Russell Hillberry & David Hummels, 2002. "Explaining Home Bias in Consumption: The Role of Intermediate Input Trade," NBER Working Papers 9020, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Bergstrand, Jeffrey H, 1985. "The Gravity Equation in International Trade: Some Microeconomic Foundations and Empirical Evidence," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 67(3), pages 474-81, August.
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  1. "Globalisation and the Costs of International Trade from 1870 to the Present"
    by Mark Thoma in Economist's View on 2008-08-16 20:08:00
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