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Comparative advantage and the cross-section of business cycles

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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 Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in its series Economics Working Papers with number 845.

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Date of creation: Jan 2001
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Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:845

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Web page: http://www.econ.upf.edu/

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Keywords: Asymmetries; comparative advantage; labour skills; technology;

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  1. Kraay, Aart & Ventura, Jaume, 1995. "Trade and fluctuations," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1560, The World Bank.
  2. Daron Acemoglu & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 1994. "Was Prometheus unbound by chance? Risk, diversification and growth," Economics Working Papers 98, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  3. 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.
  4. Obstfeld, Maurice & Rogoff, Kenneth, 1995. "Exchange Rate Dynamics Redux," CEPR Discussion Papers 1131, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. 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.
  6. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth Rogoff, 1998. "Risk and Exchange Rates," NBER Working Papers 6694, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles L. Evans, 1996. "Sticky price and limited participation models of money: a comparison," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues WP-96-28, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  8. Giancarlo Corsetti & Paolo Pesenti, 1997. "Welfare and Macroeconomic Interdependence," NBER Working Papers 6307, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Baxter, M., 1994. "International Trade and Business Cycles," RCER Working Papers 390, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  10. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1982. "Time to Build and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1345-70, November.
  11. Baxter, Marianne, 1995. "International trade and business cycles," Handbook of International Economics, in: G. M. Grossman & K. Rogoff (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 35, pages 1801-1864 Elsevier.
  12. David H. Romer & Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1999. "Does Trade Cause Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 379-399, June.
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