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A Note on Trade Costs and Distance

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  • Martina Lawless

    (Central Bank)

  • Karl Whelan

    (University College Dublin)

Abstract

One of the most famous and robust findings in international economics is that distance has a strong negative effect on trade. Bernard, Jensen, Redding, and Schott (2007) discuss how this can be decomposed into an effect due to the number of products and an effect due to average exports per product. Using US firm-level data, they show that distance has a strong negative effect on the number of products exported. However, they find that the intensive margin—average sales of individual products—is increasing with distance. We show that this apparently puzzling finding is consistent with models featuring firm heterogeneity in productivity and fixed costs associated with exporting to each market. We also show how evidence of this type can be used to derive new estimates of how distance affects fixed and variable trade costs and how these two costs combine to generate the distance effect on trade.

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File URL: http://www.ucd.ie/economics/research/papers/2007/WP07.16.pdf
File Function: First version, 2007
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by School Of Economics, University College Dublin in its series Working Papers with number 200716.

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Length: 17 pages
Date of creation: 17 Nov 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ucn:wpaper:200716

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  1. Lawless, Martina, 2007. "Firm Export Dynamics and the Geography of Trade," Research Technical Papers 2/RT/07, Central Bank of Ireland.
  2. Elhanan Helpman & Marc J. Melitz & Stephen R. Yeaple, 2003. "Export versus FDI," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1998, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  3. Andrew B. Bernard & Stephen Redding & Peter K. Schott, 2006. "Multi-Product Firms and Trade Liberalization," CEP Discussion Papers dp0769, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  4. Andrew B. Bernard & Stephen Redding & Peter K. Schott, 2004. "Comparative Advantage and Heterogeneous Firms," NBER Working Papers 10668, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2004. "Trade Costs," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 593, Boston College Department of Economics.
  6. Melitz, Marc J, 2002. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," CEPR Discussion Papers 3381, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Andrew Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Stephen Redding & Peter Schott, 2007. "Firms in International Trade," Working Papers 07-14, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  8. Samuel S. Kortum, 1997. "Research, Patenting, and Technological Change," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(6), pages 1389-1420, November.
  9. Peter Neary & Carsten Eckel, 2006. "Multi-Product Firms and Flexible Manufacturing in the Global Economy," Economics Series Working Papers 292, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  10. Elhanan Helpman & Marc Melitz & Yona Rubinstein, 2007. "Estimating Trade Flows: Trading Partners and Trading Volumes," NBER Working Papers 12927, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum & Francis Kramarz, 2004. "Dissecting Trade: Firms, Industries, and Export Destinations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 150-154, May.
  12. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2000. "Gravity with Gravitas: A Solution to the Border Puzzle," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 485, Boston College Department of Economics.
  13. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2002. "Technology, Geography, and Trade," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(5), pages 1741-1779, September.
  14. repec:rus:hseeco:122439 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. Xavier Gabaix, 1999. "Zipf'S Law For Cities: An Explanation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 739-767, August.
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Cited by:
  1. Crozet, Matthieu & Head, Keith & Mayer, Thierry, 2009. "Quality sorting and trade: Firm-level evidence for French wine," CEPR Discussion Papers 7295, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Gábor Békés & Balázs Muraközy, 2011. "Temporary trade and heterogeneous firms," CeFiG Working Papers 6, Center for Firms in the Global Economy, revised 13 Feb 2011.
  3. Balazs Murakozy & Gabor Bekes, 2009. "Temporary Trade," IEHAS Discussion Papers 0909, Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

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