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Trade costs in the first wave of globalization

  • Jacks, David S.
  • Meissner, Christopher M.
  • Novy, Dennis

What factors drove globalization in the late 19th century? We employ a new micro-founded measure of bilateral trade costs based on a standard model of trade in differentiated goods to address this question. These trade costs gauge the difference between observed bilateral trade and frictionless trade. They comprise tariffs, transportation costs, and all other factors that impede international trade but which are inherently difficult to observe. Trade costs fell on average by 10-16 percent between 1870 and 1913. We also use this measure to decompose the growth of trade over that period and find that roughly 44 percent of the rise in trade within our sample can be explained by reductions in trade costs; the remaining 56 percent is attributable to economic expansion.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Explorations in Economic History.

Volume (Year): 47 (2010)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 127-141

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Handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:47:y:2010:i:2:p:127-141
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622830

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