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Factor endowments and industrial structure

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  • Trevor A. Reeve
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    Abstract

    What determines industrial structure? Do sector-specific characteristics such as unionization, regulation, and trade policy dominate production patterns? One is inclined to believe so based on countless industry-level studies and the many political battles that are continually fought over trade and industrial policy. In contrast, standard neoclassical trade theory suggests that industrial structure is primarily driven by relative factor supplies. This paper demonstrates that aggregate factor endowments explain much of the structure of production---independent of industry idiosyncrasies---and quantifies the extent to which shifts in industrial structure in a cross section of countries are driven by the broad forces of factor accumulation. This result has important implications for policy. In particular, investment in physical capital and education may have as great an impact on the pattern of production as sector-specific trade and industrial policies. Thus, general equilibrium effects should not be ignored in efforts either to understand industrial structure or to form policies that attempt to alter it. These conclusions are reached through an empirical application of the factor proportions model of production.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series International Finance Discussion Papers with number 731.

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    Date of creation: 2002
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    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:731

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    Keywords: Industrial organization (Economic theory);

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    1. Lawrence F. Katz & Gary W. Loveman & David G. Blanchflower, 1995. "A Comparison of Changes in the Structure of Wages in Four OECD Countries," NBER Chapters, in: Differences and Changes in Wage Structures, pages 25-66 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. James Harrigan & Egon Zakrajsek, 2000. "Factor Supplies and Specialization in the World Economy," NBER Working Papers 7848, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. James Harrigan, 2001. "Specialization and the Volume of Trade: Do the Data Obey the Laws?," NBER Working Papers 8675, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Donald R. Davis & David E. Weinstein, 1998. "Economic geography and regional production structure: an empirical investigation," Staff Reports 40, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
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      • Edward E. Leamer, 1988. "Measures of Openness," NBER Chapters, in: Trade Policy Issues and Empirical Analysis, pages 145-204 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Lawrence F. Katz & Gary W. Loveman & David G. Blanchflower, 1993. "A Comparison of Changes in the Structure of Wages," NBER Working Papers 4297, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Bernstein, Jeffrey R. & Weinstein, David E., 2002. "Do endowments predict the location of production?: Evidence from national and international data," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 55-76, January.
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    13. Feldstein, Martin & Horioka, Charles, 1980. "Domestic Saving and International Capital Flows," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 90(358), pages 314-29, June.
    14. Baumol, William J. & Nelson, Richard R. & Wolff, Edward N. (ed.), 1994. "Convergence of Productivity: Cross-National Studies and Historical Evidence," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195083903.
    15. Davis, Donald R. & David E. Weinstein & Scott C. Bradford & Kazushige Shimpo, 1997. "Using International and Japanese Regional Data to Determine When the Factor Abundance Theory of Trade Works," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 421-46, June.
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