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Comparative advantage, complexity, and volatility

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  • Krishna, Pravin
  • Levchenko, Andrei A.

Abstract

Less developed countries tend to experience higher output volatility, a fact that is in part explained by their specialization in more volatile sectors. This paper proposes theoretical explanations for this pattern of specialization – with the complexity of the goods playing a central role. Specifically, less developed countries with lower institutional ability to enforce contracts, or alternately, with low levels of human capital will specialize in less complex goods which are also characterized by higher levels of output volatility. We provide novel empirical evidence that less complex industries are indeed more volatile.

Suggested Citation

  • Krishna, Pravin & Levchenko, Andrei A., 2013. "Comparative advantage, complexity, and volatility," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 314-329.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:94:y:2013:i:c:p:314-329
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2012.11.004
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    Cited by:

    1. Bahar, Dany & Rosenow, Samuel & Stein, Ernesto & Wagner, Rodrigo, 2019. "Export take-offs and acceleration: Unpacking cross-sector linkages in the evolution of comparative advantage," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 48-60.
    2. Bahar, Dany & Rosenow, Samuel & Stein, Ernesto & Wagner, Rodrigo Andres, 2018. "Export Take-Offs and Acceleration: Unpacking Cross-Sector Linkages in the Evolution of Comparative Advantage," IZA Discussion Papers 12061, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Montalbano, Pierluigi, 2011. "Trade Openness and Developing Countries' Vulnerability: Concepts, Misconceptions, and Directions for Research," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(9), pages 1489-1502, September.
    4. Antonio Ciccone & Elias Papaioannou, 2016. "Estimating Cross-Industry Cross-Country Interaction Models Using Benchmark Industry Characteristics," NBER Working Papers 22368, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Lee, Iona Hyojung, 2018. "Industrial output fluctuations in developing countries: General equilibrium consequences of agricultural productivity shocks," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 240-279.
    6. Matteo Fiorini & Mathilde Lebrand, 2016. "The Political Economy of Services Trade Agreements," CESifo Working Paper Series 5927, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. Castellares, Renzo & Salas, Jorge, 2019. "Contractual imperfections and the impact of crises on trade: Evidence from industry-level data," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 33-49.
    8. Christoph E. Boehm & Aaron Flaaen & Nitya Pandalai-Nayar, 2019. "Input Linkages and the Transmission of Shocks: Firm-Level Evidence from the 2011 Tōhoku Earthquake," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 101(1), pages 60-75, March.
    9. Dany Bahar & Andreas Hauptmann & Cem Özgüzel & Hillel Rapoport, 2019. "Migration and Post-conflict Reconstruction: The Effect of Returning Refugees on Export Performance in the Former Yugoslavia," CID Working Papers 120a, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
    10. Kurz, Christopher & Senses, Mine Z., 2016. "Importing, exporting, and firm-level employment volatility," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 160-175.
    11. Daniela MAGGIONI & Alessia LO TURCO & Mauro GALLEGATI, 2014. "Does export complexity matter for firms' output volatility?," Working Papers 407, Universita' Politecnica delle Marche (I), Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche e Sociali.
    12. Dany Bahar & Samuel Rosenow & Ernesto Stein & Rodrigo Wagner, 2018. "Export Take-Offs and Acceleration: Unpacking Cross-Sector Linkages in the Evolution of Comparative Advantage," CESifo Working Paper Series 7436, CESifo Group Munich.
    13. Alessia Lo Turco & Daniela Maggioni, 2016. "On tariff changes and firm-production evolution: insights from Turkish manufacturing," The Journal of International Trade & Economic Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 25(2), pages 131-164, March.
    14. Kim, Dong-Hyeon & Lin, Shu-Chin & Suen, Yu-Bo, 2016. "Trade, growth and growth volatility: New panel evidence," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 384-399.
    15. Fiorini, Matteo; Lebrand, Mathilde, 2016. "The Political Economy of Services Trade Agreements," Economics Working Papers ECO2016/05, European University Institute.
    16. Emiliano Magrini & Pierluigi Montalbano, 2012. "Trade openness and vulnerability to poverty: Vietnam in the long-run (1992-2008)," Working Paper Series 3512, Department of Economics, University of Sussex Business School.
    17. Sean Dougherty & Verónica C. Frisancho Robles & Kala Krishna, 2011. "Employment Protection Legislation and Plant-Level Productivity in India," NBER Working Papers 17693, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Chang, Pao-Li & Lu, Chia-Hui, 2012. "Risk and the technology content of FDI: A dynamic model," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(2), pages 306-317.
    19. Maggioni, Daniela & Lo Turco, Alessia & Gallegati, Mauro, 2016. "Does product complexity matter for firms' output volatility?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 121(C), pages 94-109.
    20. Teixeira, Aurora A.C. & Queirós, Anabela S.S., 2016. "Economic growth, human capital and structural change: A dynamic panel data analysis," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(8), pages 1636-1648.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Product complexity; Comparative advantage; Volatility;

    JEL classification:

    • F40 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - General

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