Ricardo's Theory of Comparative Advantage: Old Idea, New Evidence
When asked to name one proposition in the social sciences that is both true and non-trivial, Paul Samuelson famously replied: 'Ricardo's theory of comparative advantage'. Truth, however, in Samuelson's reply refers to the fact that Ricardo's theory of comparative advantage is mathematically correct, not that it is empirically valid. In this paper we develop and implement an empirical test of Ricardo's ideas. We use novel agricultural data that describe the productivity in 17 crops of 1.6 million parcels of land in 55 countries around the world. We find that a regression of log observed output on log predicted output has a (precisely estimated) slope of 0.84 and an R-squared of 0.93. In our view, these findings offer considerable support for Ricardo's ideas.
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Volume (Year): 102 (2012)
Issue (Month): 3 (May)
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References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Nathan Nunn & Nancy Qian, 2011.
"The Potato's Contribution to Population and Urbanization: Evidence From A Historical Experiment,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
Oxford University Press, vol. 126(2), pages 593-650.
- Nunn, Nathan & Qian, Nancy, 2009. "The Potato's Contribution to Population and Urbanization: Evidence from an Historical Experiment," CEPR Discussion Papers 7364, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Nathan Nunn & Nancy Qian, 2009. "The Potato's Contribution to Population and Urbanization: Evidence from an Historical Experiment," NBER Working Papers 15157, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Arnaud Costinot, 2009.
"An Elementary Theory of Comparative Advantage,"
NBER Working Papers
14645, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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