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Airplanes and comparative advantage

  • Harrigan, James

Airplanes are a fast but expensive means of shipping goods, a fact which has implications for comparative advantage. The paper develops a Ricardian model with a continuum of goods which vary by weight and hence transport cost. Comparative advantage depends on relative air and surface transport costs across countries and goods, as well as stochastic productivity. A key testable implication is that the U.S. should import heavier goods from nearby countries, and lighter goods from faraway counties. This implication is tested using detailed data on U.S. imports from 1990 to 2003. Looking across goods the U.S. imports, nearby exporters have lower market share in goods that the rest of the world ships by air. Looking across exporters for individual goods, distance from the US is associated with much higher import unit values. These effects are large, which establish that the model identifies an important influence on specialization and trade.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of International Economics.

Volume (Year): 82 (2010)
Issue (Month): 2 (November)
Pages: 181-194

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Handle: RePEc:eee:inecon:v:82:y:2010:i:2:p:181-194
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505552

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  1. Juan Carlos Hallak, 2004. "Product Quality, Linder, and the Direction of Trade," NBER Working Papers 10877, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Stephen Redding & Anthony J. Venables, 2001. "Economic Geography and International Inequality," CEP Discussion Papers dp0495, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  3. Peter K. Schott, 2004. "Across-product Versus Within-product Specialization in International Trade," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(2), pages 646-677, May.
  4. Alan V Deardorff, 2004. "Local Comparative Advantage: Trade Costs and the Pattern of Trade," Working Papers 500, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
  5. Venables, Anthony J. & Limao, Nuno, 1999. "Geographical disadvantage - a Heckscher-Ohlin-von Thunen model of international specialization," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2256, The World Bank.
  6. Harrigan, James & Venables, Anthony J, 2004. "Timeliness, Trade and Agglomeration," CEPR Discussion Papers 4294, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. 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.
  8. Carolyn L. Evans & James Harrigan, 2005. "Distance, Time, and Specialization: Lean Retailing in General Equilibrium," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 292-313, March.
  9. David Hummels & Alexandre Skiba, 2004. "Shipping the Good Apples Out? An Empirical Confirmation of the Alchian-Allen Conjecture," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(6), pages 1384-1402, December.
  10. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2002. "Technology, Geography, and Trade," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(5), pages 1741-1779, September.
  11. Harrigan, James & Venables, Anthony J., 2006. "Timeliness and agglomeration," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 300-316, March.
  12. Hallak, Juan Carlos, 2006. "Product quality and the direction of trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 238-265, January.
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