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Heterogeneous Firms, Globalisation and the Distance Puzzle

Listed author(s):
  • Mario Larch
  • Pehr-Johan Norbäck
  • Steffen Sirries
  • Dieter M. Urban

Despite the strong pace of globalization, the distance effect on trade is persistent or even growing over time (Disdier and Head, 2008). To solve this distance puzzle, we use the recently developed gravity equation estimator from Helpman, Melitz and Rubinstein (2008), HMR henceforth. Using three different data sets, we find that the distance coefficient increases over time when OLS is used, while the non-linear estimation of HMR leads to a decline in the distance coefficient over time. The distance puzzle thus arises from a growing bias of OLS estimates. The latter is explained by globalization more significantly reducing the downward bias from omitting zero trade flows than it reduces the upward bias from omitting the number of heterogeneous exporting firms. Furthermore, we show that including zero-trade flows cannot solve the distance puzzle when using HMR. The HMR estimates are strongly correlated with the time pattern in freight costs reported by Hummels (2007).

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/twec.12303
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Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal The World Economy.

Volume (Year): 39 (2016)
Issue (Month): 9 (09)
Pages: 1307-1338

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Handle: RePEc:bla:worlde:v:39:y:2016:i:9:p:1307-1338
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  1. Keith Head & Thierry Mayer & John Ries, 2011. "The erosion of colonial trade linkages after independence," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/c8dmi8nm4pd, Sciences Po.
  2. Poschke, Markus, 2014. "The Firm Size Distribution across Countries and Skill-Biased Change in Entrepreneurial Technology," IZA Discussion Papers 7991, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  6. Heckman, James J, 1979. "Sample Selection Bias as a Specification Error," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 153-161, January.
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  8. Rauch, James E., 1999. "Networks versus markets in international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 7-35, June.
  9. Gabriel J. Felbermayr & Wilhelm Kohler, 2006. "Exploring the Intensive and Extensive Margins of World Trade," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 142(4), pages 642-674, December.
  10. Yotov, Yoto V., 2012. "A simple solution to the distance puzzle in international trade," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 117(3), pages 794-798.
  11. Edward L. Glaeser & Janet E. Kohlhase, 2003. "Cities, Regions and the Decline of Transport Costs," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2014, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  12. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2000. "Gravity with Gravitas: A Solution to the Border Puzzle," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 485, Boston College Department of Economics.
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  14. Jean-François BRUN & Céline CARRERE & Jaime MELO DE & Patrick GUILLAUMONT, 2002. "Has Distance Died? Evidence from a Panel Gravity Model," Working Papers 200215, CERDI.
  15. Russell Hillberry & David Hummels, 2005. "Trade Responses to Geographic Frictions: A Decomposition Using Micro-Data," NBER Working Papers 11339, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. David Hummels & Peter J. Klenow, 2005. "The Variety and Quality of a Nation's Exports," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 704-723, June.
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  18. 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.
  19. Blum, Bernardo S. & Goldfarb, Avi, 2006. "Does the internet defy the law of gravity?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 384-405, December.
  20. Krautheim, Sebastian, 2012. "Heterogeneous firms, exporter networks and the effect of distance on international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 27-35.
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