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The Fallacy of Composition: A Review of the Literature

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  • Jörg Mayer

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This paper reviews the literature on the fallacy of composition with an emphasis on labour-intensive manufactures. It briefly addresses the protectionist and the partial-equilibrium versions of the argument before focusing on general-equilibrium considerations and the debate on the manufactures terms of trade of developing countries. The review indicates a potential fallacy of composition problem in labour-intensive manufactures, where competition among different groups of developing countries for export market shares may constitute a new form of the fallacy of composition. The likelihood of a country that exports labour-intensive manufactures to become subject to the fallacy of composition rises with the increasing integration of several strongly populated low-income countries into world markets, while it declines with continuous structural change and favourable aggregate demand conditions particularly in developed and the advanced developing countries. Copyright Blackwell Publishers Ltd 2002.

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  • Jörg Mayer, 2002. "The Fallacy of Composition: A Review of the Literature," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 25(6), pages 875-894, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:worlde:v:25:y:2002:i:6:p:875-894
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