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Ethnic Networks, Information, and International Trade: Revisiting the Evidence


  • Gabriel J. Felbermayr
  • Benjamin Jung
  • Farid Toubal


Co-ethnic networks foster trade by providing information about trading opportunities and taking advantage of mutual trust. While the economics literature usually focuses on direct ethnic links between source and host countries, sociological studies adopt a broader perspective. They emphasize the role of ethnic minorities as middlemen who organize trade between various regions in the world. Rauch and Trindade [2002] study those indirect links between ethnic Chinese in different host countries. We revisit their work, particularly focusing on the trade-cost channel. Moreover, we extend the analysis to all potential ethnic networks. Using new data on bilateral stocks of migrants from the World Bank for the year of 2000, we find that the trade creating potential of the Chinese network is dwarfed by other ethnic networks, e. g., the Polish, the Turkish, the Mexican, or the Pakistani networks. The large heterogeneity in the pro-trade effect of different networks is, among other things, explained by the share of high-skilled immigrants, the degree of ethnic fragmentation, and GDP per capita

Suggested Citation

  • Gabriel J. Felbermayr & Benjamin Jung & Farid Toubal, 2010. "Ethnic Networks, Information, and International Trade: Revisiting the Evidence," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 97-98, pages 41-70.
  • Handle: RePEc:adr:anecst:y:2010:i:97-98:p:41-70

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Murat Genc & Masood Gheasi & Peter Nijkamp & Jacques Poot, 2012. "The impact of immigration on international trade: a meta-analysis," Chapters,in: Migration Impact Assessment, chapter 9, pages 301-337 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Heid, Benedikt & Larch, Mario, 2012. "Migration, trade and unemployment," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 6, pages 1-40.
    3. Mariya Aleksynska & Giovanni Peri, 2014. "Isolating the Network Effect of Immigrants on Trade," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(3), pages 434-455, March.
    4. Sanne Hiller, 2014. "The Export Promoting Effect of Emigration: Evidence from Denmark," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(4), pages 693-708, November.
    5. Lin, Xiaohua & Yang, Xiyan, 2017. "From human capital externality to entrepreneurial aspiration: Revisiting the migration-trade linkage," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 360-371.
    6. Pierre-Louis Vézina, 2010. "Migrant Networks as substitute for institutions: Evidence from Swiss trade," IHEID Working Papers 03-2010, Economics Section, The Graduate Institute of International Studies.
    7. Magnus Lodefalk, 2016. "Temporary expats for exports: micro-level evidence," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 152(4), pages 733-772, November.
    8. repec:oup:jecgeo:v:17:y:2017:i:5:p:1009-1038. is not listed on IDEAS
    9. CHRIS MILNER & DANNY McGOWAN, 2013. "Trade Costs And Trade Composition," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 51(3), pages 1886-1902, July.
    10. Pierre-Louis Vézina, 2012. "How Migrant Networks Facilitate Trade: Evidence from Swiss Exports," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 148(III), pages 449-476, September.
    11. Hiller, Sanne, 2011. "Does Immigrant Employment Matter for Exports? Evidence From Denmark," Working Papers 11-16, University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation
    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration


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