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The Increasing Returns Revolution in Trade and Geography

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  • Paul Krugman

Abstract

Thirty years have passed since a small group of theorists began applying concepts and tools from industrial organization to the analysis of international trade. The new models of trade that emerged from that work didn't supplant traditional trade theory so much as supplement it, creating an integrated view that made sense of aspects of world trade that had previously posed major puzzles. The "new trade theory"—an unfortunate phrase, now quite often referred to as "the old new trade theory"—also helped build a bridge between the analysis of trade between countries and the location of production within countries. In this paper I will try to retrace the steps and, perhaps even more important, the state of mind that made this intellectual transformation possible. At the end I'll also ask about the relevance of those once-revolutionary insights in a world economy that, as I'll explain, is arguably more classical now than it was when the revolution in trade theory began.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Krugman, 2009. "The Increasing Returns Revolution in Trade and Geography," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(3), pages 561-571, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:99:y:2009:i:3:p:561-71
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.99.3.561
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Michael Spence, 1976. "Product Selection, Fixed Costs, and Monopolistic Competition," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 43(2), pages 217-235.
    2. Helpman, Elhanan, 1981. "International trade in the presence of product differentiation, economies of scale and monopolistic competition : A Chamberlin-Heckscher-Ohlin approach," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 305-340, August.
    3. Krugman, Paul, 1991. "Increasing Returns and Economic Geography," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(3), pages 483-499, June.
    4. Krugman, Paul R, 1981. "Intraindustry Specialization and the Gains from Trade," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 959-973, October.
    5. Krugman, Paul, 1980. "Scale Economies, Product Differentiation, and the Pattern of Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(5), pages 950-959, December.
    6. Lancaster, Kelvin, 1980. "Intra-industry trade under perfect monopolistic competition," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 151-175, May.
    7. Krugman, Paul R., 1989. "Industrial organization and international trade," Handbook of Industrial Organization,in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 20, pages 1179-1223 Elsevier.
    8. Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1977. "Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(3), pages 297-308, June.
    9. Richard E. Baldwin & Philippe Martin, 1999. "Two Waves of Globalisation: Superficial Similarities, Fundamental Differences," NBER Working Papers 6904, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2002. "Technology, Geography, and Trade," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(5), pages 1741-1779, September.
    11. Paul R. Krugman, 2008. "Trade and Wages, Reconsidered," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 39(1 (Spring), pages 103-154.
    12. Krugman, Paul R., 1979. "Increasing returns, monopolistic competition, and international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 469-479, November.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)

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