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Comparative Advantage, Complexity and Volatility

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  • Pravin Krishna
  • Andrei A. Levchenko

Abstract

Less developed countries tend to experience higher output volatility, a fact that is, in part, explained by their specialization in more volatile sectors. This paper proposes theoretical explanations for this pattern of specialization -- with the complexity of the goods playing a central role. Specifically, less developed countries with low levels of human capital, or alternately, with lower institutional ability to enforce contracts, will specialize in less complex goods which are also characterized by higher levels of output volatility. We provide novel empirical evidence that less complex industries are indeed more volatile.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14965.

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Date of creation: May 2009
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Publication status: published as Krishna, Pravin & Levchenko, Andrei A., 2013. "Comparative advantage, complexity, and volatility," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 314-329.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14965

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  1. Miklos Koren & Silvana Tenreyro, 2005. "Volatility and Development," CEP Discussion Papers dp0706, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  2. Julian di Giovanni & Andrei A. Levchenko, 2009. "Trade Openness and Volatility," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(3), pages 558-585, August.
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  10. Jaume Ventura, 1998. "Comparative Advantage and the Cross-Section of Business Cycles," Working papers 98-9, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  11. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Montalbano, Pierluigi, 2011. "Trade Openness and Developing Countries' Vulnerability: Concepts, Misconceptions, and Directions for Research," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(9), pages 1489-1502, September.
  2. Sean Dougherty & Verónica Frisancho Robles & Kala Krishna, 2011. "Employment Protection Legislation and Plant-Level Productivity in India," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 917, OECD Publishing.
  3. Christopher Kurz & Mine Z. Senses, 2013. "Importing, Exporting And Firm-Level Employment Volatility," Working Papers 13-31, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  4. Emiliano Magrini & Pierluigi Montalbano, 2012. "Trade openness and vulnerability to poverty: Vietnam in the long-run (1992-2008)," Working Paper Series 3512, Department of Economics, University of Sussex.
  5. Christopher Kurz & Mine Z. Senses, 2013. "Importing, exporting and firm-level employment volatility," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2013-44, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  6. Chang, Pao-Li & Lu, Chia-Hui, 2012. "Risk and the technology content of FDI: A dynamic model," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(2), pages 306-317.

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