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Coordination cost and the distance puzzle

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  • Sandrine Noblet

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  • Antoine Belgodere

Abstract

The distance puzzle has been wildly discussed in the literature since Leamer and Levinsohn (1995) shed the light on it. This puzzle simply says that “the world is not getting smaller”: distance still matters to account for trade. This is reflected in a decreasing distance of trade (DOT), or in a stable or increasing (negative) elasticity of trade with respect to distance (Disdier and head, 2008). Several explanations of this puzzle have been emphasized in the empirical International Economics literature. Duranton and Storper (2008) contribute to this issue in offering a full theoretical framework to account for this puzzle. They explain that an improvement in transport technology can increase the transport costs, because it creates an incentive to trade higher quality goods. Our paper proposes a new theoretical explanation of this puzzle. This explanation shares with Duranton and Storper's two important characteristics: i) there is a non monotonic relationship between transport cost and trade cost. ii) this phenomenon is due to contract incompleteness. However, the mechanism that we underline is quite different: in our model, based on a Dixit-Stiglitz increasing return to scale technology, a fall in transport cost increases the international division of labour. It follows that input-output linkages require a higher level of coordination. Such a coordination is easier between neighbors than between very distant countries. As a result, trade increases with all partners, but more quickly for neighbors than for distant countries.

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Paper provided by European Regional Science Association in its series ERSA conference papers with number ersa10p756.

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Date of creation: Sep 2011
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Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa10p756

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  1. David T Coe & Arvind Subramanian & Natalia T Tamirisa, 2007. "The Missing Globalization Puzzle: Evidence of the Declining Importance of Distance," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 54(1), pages 34-58, May.
  2. Fink, Carsten & Mattoo, Aaditya & Neagu, Ileana Cristina, 2005. "Assessing the impact of communication costs on international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 428-445, December.
  3. Hummels, David, 2001. "Time as a Trade Barrier," GTAP Working Papers 1152, Center for Global Trade Analysis, Department of Agricultural Economics, Purdue University.
  4. Anne-Celia Disdier & Keith Head, 2008. "The puzzling persistence of the distance effect on bilateral trade," Working Papers 21709, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, France.
  5. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2001. "Gravity with Gravitas: A Solution to the Border Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 8079, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Gilles Duranton & Michael Storper, 2005. "Rising trade costs?: agglomeration and trade with endogenous transaction costs," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19898, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  7. Rikhil Bhavnani & Natalia T. Tamirisa & Arvind Subramanian & David T. Coe, 2002. "The Missing Globalization Puzzle," IMF Working Papers 02/171, International Monetary Fund.
  8. Jean-François BRUN & Céline CARRERE & Patrick GUILLAUMONT & Jaime MELO DE, 2002. "Has Distance Died? Evidence from a Panel Gravity Model," Working Papers 200215, CERDI.
  9. Alan V. Deardorff, 1995. "Determinants of Bilateral Trade: Does Gravity Work in a Neoclassical World?," NBER Working Papers 5377, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Leamer, Edward E. & Levinsohn, James, 1995. "International trade theory: The evidence," Handbook of International Economics, in: G. M. Grossman & K. Rogoff (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1339-1394 Elsevier.
  11. Buch, Claudia M. & Kleinert, Jorn & Toubal, Farid, 2004. "The distance puzzle: on the interpretation of the distance coefficient in gravity equations," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 83(3), pages 293-298, June.
  12. A.L. Keith Acheson, 2010. "Globalization," Carleton Economic Papers 10-01, Carleton University, Department of Economics.
  13. David Hummels, 2007. "Transportation Costs and International Trade in the Second Era of Globalization," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(3), pages 131-154, Summer.
  14. Lionel Fontagne & Soledad Zignago, 2007. "A Re-evaluation of the Impact of Regional Agreements on Trade Patterns," Economie Internationale, CEPII research center, issue 109, pages 31-51.
  15. Sebastian Krautheim, 2007. "Gravity and Information: Heterogeneous Firms, Exporter Networks and the 'Distance Puzzle'," Economics Working Papers ECO2007/51, European University Institute.
  16. Cletus C. Coughlin, 2004. "The increasing importance of proximity for exports from U.S. states," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Nov, pages 1-18.
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