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Deconstructing gravity: trade costs and extensive and intensive margins

  • Martina Lawless

This paper uses data on US exports to decompose exports into the number of exporting firms (the extensive margin) and average export sales (the intensive margin). We show how a range of proxies for trade costs has different impacts on the two margins. Distance has a negative effect on both margins, but the magnitude is considerably larger for the extensive margin. Most of the variables capturing language, internal geography, infrastructure and import cost barriers work through the extensive margin. We show that these results are consistent with a Melitz-style model of trade with heterogeneous firm productivity and fixed costs.

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Article provided by Canadian Economics Association in its journal Canadian Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 43 (2010)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
Pages: 1149-1172

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Handle: RePEc:cje:issued:v:43:y:2010:i:4:p:1149-1172
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  1. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Stephen Redding & Peter K. Schott, 2007. "Firms in International Trade," CEP Discussion Papers dp0795, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  2. Elhanan Helpman & Marc J. Melitz & Stephen R. Yeaple, 2003. "Export versus FDI," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1998, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  3. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2004. "Trade Costs," NBER Working Papers 10480, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Lawless, Martina, 2007. "Firm Export Dynamics and the Geography of Trade," MPRA Paper 10008, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum & Francis Kramarz, 2004. "Dissecting trade: firms, industries, and export destinations," Staff Report 332, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  6. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2001. "Gravity with Gravitas: A Solution to the Border Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 8079, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Samuel S. Kortum, 1997. "Research, Patenting, and Technological Change," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(6), pages 1389-1420, November.
  8. Marc J. Melitz, 2003. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(6), pages 1695-1725, November.
  9. Simeon Djankov & Caroline Freund & Cong S. Pham, 2010. "Trading on Time," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(1), pages 166-173, February.
  10. Thomas Chaney, 2008. "Distorted Gravity: The Intensive and Extensive Margins of International Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1707-21, September.
  11. David L. Hummels & Georg Schaur, 2013. "Time as a Trade Barrier," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(7), pages 2935-59, December.
  12. Xavier Gabaix, 1999. "Zipf'S Law For Cities: An Explanation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 739-767, August.
  13. Anne-Célia Disdier & Keith Head, 2004. "The Puzzling Persistence of the Distance Effect on Bilateral Trade," Development Working Papers 186, Centro Studi Luca d\'Agliano, University of Milano.
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