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Comparative Advantage and the Cross-Section of Business Cycles

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  • Jaume Ventura

Abstract

Business cycles are both less volatile and more synchronized with the world cycle in rich countries than in poor ones. We develop two alternative explanations based on the idea that comparative advantage causes rich countries to specialize in industries that use new technologies operated by skilled workers, while poor countries specialize in industries that use traditional technologies operated by unskilled workers. Since new technologies are difficult to imitate, the industries of rich countries enjoy more market power and face more inelastic product demands than those of poor countries. Since skilled workers are less likely to exit employment as a result of changes in economic conditions, industries in rich countries face more inelastic labour supplies than those of poor countries. We show that either asymmetry in industry characteristics can generate cross-country differences in business cycles that resemble those we observe in the data.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 98-9.

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Date of creation: Jul 1998
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Handle: RePEc:mit:worpap:98-9

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Postal: MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY (MIT), DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMICS, 50 MEMORIAL DRIVE CAMBRIDGE MASSACHUSETTS 02142 USA
Phone: (617) 253-3361
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Web page: http://econ-www.mit.edu/
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Postal: MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY (MIT), DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMICS, 50 MEMORIAL DRIVE CAMBRIDGE MASSACHUSETTS 02142 USA
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  1. Daron Acemoglu & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 1994. "Was Prometheus unbound by chance? Risk, diversification and growth," Economics Working Papers 98, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  2. Obstfeld, Maurice & Rogoff, Kenneth, 1995. "Exchange Rate Dynamics Redux," CEPR Discussion Papers 1131, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Kraay, Aart & Ventura, Jaume, 1995. "Trade and fluctuations," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1560, The World Bank.
  4. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth Rogoff, 1998. "Risk and Exchange Rates," NBER Working Papers 6694, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles L. Evans, 1996. "Sticky Price and Limited Participation Models of Money: A Comparison," NBER Working Papers 5804, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Marianne Baxter, 1995. "International Trade and Business Cycles," NBER Working Papers 5025, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Giancarlo Corsetti & Paolo Pesenti, 1997. "Welfare and Macroeconomic Interdependence," NBER Working Papers 6307, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1982. "Time to Build and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1345-70, November.
  9. David Backus & Patrick J. Kehoe & Finn E. Kydland, 1993. "International Business Cycles: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 4493, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Baxter, Marianne, 1995. "International trade and business cycles," Handbook of International Economics, in: G. M. Grossman & K. Rogoff (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 35, pages 1801-1864 Elsevier.
  11. David H. Romer & Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1999. "Does Trade Cause Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 379-399, June.
  12. Chinhui Juhn & Kevin M. Murphy & Robert H. Topel, 1991. "Why Has the Natural Rate of Unemployment Increased over Time?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 22(2), pages 75-142.
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