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Tear Down this Wall: On the Persistence of Borders in Trade

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  • Nitsch, Volker
  • Wolf, Nikolaus

Abstract

Why do borders still matter for economic activity? The reunification of Germany in 1990 provides a unique natural experiment for examining the effect of political borders on trade both in the cross-section and over time. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the rapid formation of a political and economic union, strong and strictly enforced administrative barriers to trade between East Germany and West Germany were eliminated completely within a very short period of time. The evolution of intra-German trade flows after reunification then provides new insights for both the globalization and border effects literatures. Our estimation results show a remarkable persistence in intra-German trade patterns along the former East-West border; political integration is not rapidly followed by economic integration. Instead, we estimate that it takes at least one generation (between 33 and 40 years or more) to remove the impact of political borders on trade. This finding strongly suggests that border effects are neither statistical artefacts nor mainly driven by administrative or "red tape" barriers to trade, but arise from economic fundamentals.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7545.

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Date of creation: Nov 2009
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7545

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Keywords: globalization; home bias; integration;

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References

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  1. J. M. C. Santos Silva & Silvana Tenreyro, 2006. "The Log of Gravity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(4), pages 641-658, November.
  2. Nikolaus Wolf, 2008. "Was Germany ever United? Evidence from Intra- and International Trade 1885 - 1933," CESifo Working Paper Series 2424, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Stephen Redding & Daniel M. Sturm, 2005. "The costs of remoteness: evidence from German division and reunification," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3691, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  4. Chen, Natalie, 2004. "Intra-national versus international trade in the European Union: why do national borders matter?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 93-118, May.
  5. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2004. "Trade Costs," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(3), pages 691-751, September.
  6. Hillberry, Russell & Hummels, David, 2008. "Trade responses to geographic frictions: A decomposition using micro-data," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 527-550, April.
  7. Rauch, James E., 1999. "Networks versus markets in international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 7-35, June.
  8. 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.
  9. Thierry Mayer & Keith Head, 2002. "Illusory Border Effects: Distance Mismeasurement Inflates Estimates of Home Bias in Trade," Working Papers 2002-01, CEPII research center.
  10. Volker Nitsch, 2000. "National borders and international trade: evidence from the European Union," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1091-1105, November.
  11. Max-Stephan Schulze & Nikolaus Wolf, 2009. "On the origins of border effects: insights from the Habsburg Empire," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(1), pages 117-136, January.
  12. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2000. "Gravity with Gravitas: A Solution to the Border Puzzle," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 485, Boston College Department of Economics.
  13. Hans Christian Heinemeyer, 2007. "The treatment effect of borders on trade. The great war and the disintegration of Central Europe," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 1(3), pages 177-210, October.
  14. Combes, Pierre-Philippe & Lafourcade, Miren & Mayer, Thierry, 2005. "The trade-creating effects of business and social networks: evidence from France," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 1-29, May.
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Cited by:
  1. Carlos Llano-Verduras & Asier Minondo & Francisco Requena-Silvente, 2011. "Is the Border Effect an Artefact of Geographic Aggregation?," Working Papers 1108, Department of Applied Economics II, Universidad de Valencia.
  2. Wolf, Nikolaus, 2009. "Was Germany Ever United? Evidence from Intra- and International Trade, 1885–1933," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 69(03), pages 846-881, September.
  3. Gabriel Felbermayr & Jasmin Gröschl, 2011. "Within US Trade and the Long Shadow of the American Secession," Ifo Working Paper Series Ifo Working Paper No. 117, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
  4. Alfred Lameli & Volker Nitsch & Jens Suedekum & Nikolaus Wolf, 2013. "Same Same But Different: Dialects and Trade," CESifo Working Paper Series 4245, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Heinemeyer, Hans Christian & Schulze, Max Stephan & Wolf, Nikolaus, 2008. "Endogenous Borders? Exploring a Natural Experiment on Border Effects," CEPR Discussion Papers 6909, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Delina E. Agnosteva & James E. Anderson & Yoto V. Yotov, 2014. "Intra-national Trade Costs: Measurement and Aggregation," NBER Working Papers 19872, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Hans-Christian Heinemeyer & Max-Stephan Schulze & Nikolaus Wolf, 2008. "Endogenous Borders? The Effects of New Borders on Trade in Central Europe 1885-1933," CESifo Working Paper Series 2246, CESifo Group Munich.
  8. Volker Nitsch & Nikolaus Wolf, 2010. "Zur Dauerhaftigkeit von Handelsbarrieren : Evidenz von der deutsch-deutschen Wiedervereinigung," ifo Dresden berichtet, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 17(05), pages 28-30, October.
  9. Finn Marten Körner & Hans-Michael Trautwein, 2013. "Sovereign Credit Ratings and the Transnationalization of Finance - Evidence from a Gravity Model of Portfolio Investment," ZenTra Working Papers in Transnational Studies 20 / 2013, ZenTra - Center for Transnational Studies, revised Feb 2014.

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