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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. Djankov, Simeon & Freund, Caroline & Pham, Cong S., 2006. "Trading on time," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3909, The World Bank.
  2. David L. Hummels & Georg Schaur, 2013. "Time as a Trade Barrier," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(7), pages 2935-59, December.
  3. 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.
  4. Xavier Gabaix, 1999. "Zipf'S Law For Cities: An Explanation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 739-767, August.
  5. Melitz, Marc J, 2002. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," CEPR Discussion Papers 3381, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. 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.
  7. Elhanan Helpman & Marc J. Melitz & Stephen R. Yeaple, 2003. "Export versus FDI," NBER Working Papers 9439, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum & Francis Kramarz, 2004. "Dissecting Trade: Firms, Industries, and Export Destinations," NBER Working Papers 10344, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Andrew Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Stephen Redding & Peter Schott, 2007. "Firms in International Trade," Working Papers 07-14, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  10. Samuel S. Kortum, 1997. "Research, Patenting, and Technological Change," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(6), pages 1389-1420, November.
  11. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2004. "Trade Costs," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(3), pages 691-751, September.
  12. 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.
  13. Lawless, Martina, 2009. "Firm export dynamics and the geography of trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 245-254, April.
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