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The 'Sophistication' Of Exports: A New Measure Of Product Characteristics

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  • Sanjaya Lall (QEH), John Weiss and Jinkang Zhang

Abstract

Trade data are often classified by product characteristics in the trade, technology and development literature to analyze trade patterns, competitive performance and structural change. However, existing classifications are constrained in that trade data are far more detailed than the industry data on which categories are based (e.g. current classifications only have 4-5 technology groups). We propose a new classification - 'sophistication' - as a means of analyzing product characteristics in great detail, based on the average income of exporting economies. Sophistication captures more than technical characteristics; it includes product differentiation, production fragmentation, resource availability and other factors. However, it has the advantage of providing unique continuous scores for each product at any level of detail. We calculate sophistication scores for 237 exports at the 3-digit SITC level and 766 exports at the 4-digit level for 1990 and 2000 (detailed values can be provided on request). We show sophistication scores for exports by selected countries, technology groups and industries. Our intention is to provide a database for further empirical analysis.

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Paper provided by Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford in its series QEH Working Papers with number qehwps123.

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Handle: RePEc:qeh:qehwps:qehwps123

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  1. Lall, Sanjaya, 1992. "Technological capabilities and industrialization," World Development, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 165-186, February.
  2. Hummels, David & Ishii, Jun & Yi, Kei-Mu, 2001. "The nature and growth of vertical specialization in world trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 75-96, June.
  3. Arndt, Sven W. & Kierzkowski, Henryk (ed.), 2001. "Fragmentation: New Production Patterns in the World Economy," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, Oxford University Press, number 9780199243310, October.
  4. Thomas Hatzichronoglou, 1997. "Revision of the High-Technology Sector and Product Classification," OECD Science, Technology and Industry Working Papers 1997/2, OECD Publishing.
  5. Sanjaya Lall, Manuel Albaladejo and Jinkang Zhang (QEH), . "Mapping Fragmentation: Electronics and Automobiles in East Asia and Latin America," QEH Working Papers, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford qehwps115, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
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Cited by:
  1. Minondo, Asier, 2007. "¿Cuál es el grado de sofisticación de las exportaciones manufactureras españolas?/What is Spanish Manufacturing Exports' Sophistication Degree?," Estudios de Economía Aplicada, Estudios de Economía Aplicada, vol. 25, Diciembre.
  2. Cimoli, Mario & Pereira, Wellington & Porcile, Gabriel & Scatolin, Fabio, 2008. "Structural Change, Technology, and Economic Growth: Brazil and the CIBS in a Comparative Perspective," Working Paper Series, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER) UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  3. Mario Cimoli & Wellington Pereira & Gabriel Porcile & Fábio Scatolin, 2011. "Structural change, technology, and economic growth: Brazil and the CIBS in a comparative perspective," Economic Change and Restructuring, Springer, Springer, vol. 44(1), pages 25-47, April.
  4. Shusong Ba & Shanshan Shen, 2010. "Research on China’s export structure to the US: Analysis based on the US economic growth and exchange rate," Frontiers of Economics in China, Springer, Springer, vol. 5(3), pages 339-355, September.
  5. João Amador & Sónia Cabral & José R. Maria, 2007. "International Trade Patterns over the Last Four Decades: How does Portugal Compare with other Cohesion Countries?," Working Papers, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department w200714, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.

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