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Comparative Advantage and the Cross-section of Business Cycles

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  • Aart Kraay
  • 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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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8104.

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Date of creation: Jan 2001
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Publication status: published as Aart Kraay & Jaume Ventura, 2007. "Comparative Advantage and the Cross-section of Business Cycles," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 5(6), pages 1300-1333, December.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8104

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  1. Baxter, M., 1994. "International Trade and Business Cycles," RCER Working Papers, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER) 390, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  2. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth Rogoff, 1998. "Risk and Exchange Rates," NBER Working Papers 6694, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Acemoglu, Daron & Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 1997. "Was Prometheus Unbound by Chance? Risk, Diversification, and Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(4), pages 709-51, August.
  4. Giancarlo Corsetti & Paolo Pesenti, 2001. "Welfare And Macroeconomic Interdependence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 116(2), pages 421-445, May.
  5. 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.
  6. Obstfeld, Maurice & Rogoff, Kenneth, 1995. "Exchange Rate Dynamics Redux," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 1131, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. 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.
  8. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1982. "Time to Build and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1345-70, November.
  9. David H. Romer & Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1999. "Does Trade Cause Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 379-399, June.
  10. Christiano, Lawrence J. & Eichenbaum, Martin & Evans, Charles L., 1997. "Sticky price and limited participation models of money: A comparison," European Economic Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 41(6), pages 1201-1249, June.
  11. Kraay, Aart & Ventura, Jaume, 1995. "Trade and fluctuations," Policy Research Working Paper Series, The World Bank 1560, The World Bank.
  12. Baxter, Marianne, 1995. "International trade and business cycles," Handbook of International Economics, Elsevier, in: G. M. Grossman & K. Rogoff (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 35, pages 1801-1864 Elsevier.
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