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Trade and the Topography of the Spatial Economy

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  • Treb Allen
  • Costas Arkolakis

Abstract

We develop a versatile general equilibrium framework to determine the spatial distribution of economic activity on any surface with (nearly) any geography. Combining the gravity structure of trade with labor mobility, we provide conditions for the existence, uniqueness, and stability of a spatial economic equilibrium and derive a simple set of differential equations which govern the relationship between economic activity and the geography of the surface. We then use the framework to estimate the topography of trade costs, productivities, amenities and the strength of spillovers in the United States. We find that geographic location accounts for 24% of the observed spatial distribution of income. Finally, we calculate that the construction of the interstate highway system increased welfare by 3.47%, roughly twice its cost.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19181.

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Date of creation: Jun 2013
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19181

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  1. Redding, Stephen J & Sturm, Daniel M, 2005. "The Costs of Remoteness: Evidence from German Division and Reunification," CEPR Discussion Papers 5015, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. James H. Stock & Motohiro Yogo, 2002. "Testing for Weak Instruments in Linear IV Regression," NBER Technical Working Papers 0284, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2002. "Reversal Of Fortune: Geography And Institutions In The Making Of The Modern World Income Distribution," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1231-1294, November.
  4. Krugman, Paul, 1980. "Scale Economies, Product Differentiation, and the Pattern of Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(5), pages 950-59, December.
  5. Costas Arkolakis & Svetlana Demidova & Peter J. Klenow & Andres Rodriguez-Clare, 2008. "Endogenous Variety and the Gains from Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 444-50, May.
  6. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2001. "Gravity with Gravitas: A Solution to the Border Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 8079, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Guy Michaels, 2006. "The Effect of Trade on the Demand for Skill - Evidence from the Interstate Highway System," CEP Discussion Papers dp0772, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  8. Esteban Rossi-Hansberg & Mark L. J. Wright, 2007. "Establishment Size Dynamics in the Aggregate Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1639-1666, December.
  9. Costas Arkolakis & Arnaud Costinot & Andres Rodriguez-Clare, 2012. "New Trade Models, Same Old Gains?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(1), pages 94-130, February.
  10. H. Hanson, Gordon, 2005. "Market potential, increasing returns and geographic concentration," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 1-24, September.
  11. Ellison, G. & Glaeser, E.L., 1994. "Geographic Concentration in U.S. Manufacturing Industries: A Dartboard Approach," Working papers 94-27, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  12. Anderson, James E, 1979. "A Theoretical Foundation for the Gravity Equation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(1), pages 106-16, March.
  13. Anthony Shorrocks, 2013. "Decomposition procedures for distributional analysis: a unified framework based on the Shapley value," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 99-126, March.
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Cited by:
  1. Pierre-Daniel G. Sarte & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg & Fernando Parro & Lorenzo Caliendo, 2013. "The impact of regional and sectoral productivity changes on the U.S. economy," Working Paper 13-14, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  2. Karayalcin, Cem & Yilmazkuday, Hakan, 2014. "Trade and cities," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6913, The World Bank.
  3. A. Kerem Cosar & Banu Demir, 2014. "Domestic Road Infrastructure and International Trade: Evidence from Turkey," Koç University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum Working Papers 1406, Koc University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum.
  4. Trevor Tombe & Jennifer Winter, 2014. "What's Inside Counts: Migration, Taxes, and the Internal Gains from Trade," Working Papers 2013-28, Department of Economics, University of Calgary, revised 05 May 2014.
  5. A. Kerem Coşar & Pablo D. Fajgelbaum, 2013. "Internal Geography, International Trade, and Regional Specialization," NBER Working Papers 19697, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Ferdinando Monte, 2014. "Local Transmission of Trade Shocks," Working Papers 2014-001, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.

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