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Technology, Factor Supplies and International Specialization: Estimating the Neoclassical Model

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  • James Harrigan

Abstract

The standard neoclassical model of trade theory predicts that international specialization will be jointly determined by cross-country differences in relative factor endowments and relative technology levels. This paper uses duality theory combined with a flexible functional form to specify an empirical model of specialization consistent with the neoclassical explanation. According to the empirical model, a sector's share in GDP depends on both relative factor supplies and relative technology differences, and the estimated parameters of the model have a close and clear connection to theoretical parameters. The model is estimated for manufacturing sectors using a 20 year, 10 country panel of data on the OECD countries. Hicks-neutral technology differences are measured using an application of the theory of total factor productivity comparisons, and factor supplies are measured directly. The estimated model performs well in explaining variation in production across countries and over time, and the estimated parameters are generally in line with theory and previous empirical work on the factor proportions model. Relative technology levels are found to be an important determinant of specialization

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5722.

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Date of creation: Aug 1996
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Publication status: published as Harrigan, James. "Technology, Factor Supplies, And International Specialization: Estimating The Neoclassical Model," American Economic Review, 1997, v87(4,Sep), 475-494.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5722

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  1. Leamer, Edward E. & Levinsohn, James, 1995. "International trade theory: The evidence," Handbook of International Economics, Elsevier, in: G. M. Grossman & K. Rogoff (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1339-1394 Elsevier.
  2. Deardorff, Alan V., 1984. "Testing trade theories and predicting trade flows," Handbook of International Economics, Elsevier, in: R. W. Jones & P. B. Kenen (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 10, pages 467-517 Elsevier.
  3. Barro, Robert J. & Lee, Jong-Wha, 1993. "International comparisons of educational attainment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 363-394, December.
  4. Bowen, Harry P & Leamer, Edward E & Sveikauskas, Leo, 1987. "Multicountry, Multifactor Tests of the Factor Abundance Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 791-809, December.
  5. Caves, Douglas W & Christensen, Laurits R & Diewert, W Erwin, 1982. "Multilateral Comparisons of Output, Input, and Productivity Using Superlative Index Numbers," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 92(365), pages 73-86, March.
  6. Markusen, James R, 1986. "Explaining the Volume of Trade: An Eclectic Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(5), pages 1002-11, December.
  7. Richard Brecher & Eshan Choudhri, 1992. "Some Empirical Support for the Heckscher-Ohlin Model of Production," Carleton Economic Papers 92-08, Carleton University, Department of Economics.
  8. Trefler, Daniel, 1995. "The Case of the Missing Trade and Other Mysteries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1029-46, December.
  9. Trefler, Daniel, 1993. "International Factor Price Differences: Leontief Was Right!," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(6), pages 961-87, December.
  10. Helpman, Elhanan, 1984. "Increasing returns, imperfect markets, and trade theory," Handbook of International Economics, Elsevier, in: R. W. Jones & P. B. Kenen (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 7, pages 325-365 Elsevier.
  11. James Harrigan, 1998. "Estimation of cross-country differences in industry production functions," Staff Reports 36, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  12. Staiger, Robert W., 1988. "A specification test of the Heckscher-Ohlin theory," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1-2), pages 129-141, August.
  13. Diewert, W. Erwin, 1978. "Hick's Aggregation Theorem and the Existence of a Real Value Added Function," Histoy of Economic Thought Chapters, in: Fuss, Melvyn & McFadden, Daniel (ed.), Production Economics: A Dual Approach to Theory and Applications, volume 2, chapter 2 McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought.
  14. James Harrigan, 1997. "Cross-country comparisons of industry total factor productivity: theory and evidence," Research Paper 9734, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  15. Klepper, Steven & Leamer, Edward E, 1984. "Consistent Sets of Estimates for Regressions with Errors in All Variables," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 52(1), pages 163-83, January.
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