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Trade Liberalization and Growth: New Evidence

  • Romain Wacziarg
  • Karen Horn Welch

A new data set of on openness indicators and trade liberalization dates allows the 1995 Sachs and Warner study on the relationship between trade openness and economic growth to be extended to the 1990s. New evidence on the time paths of economic growth, physical capital investment, and openness around episodes of trade policy liberalization is also presented. Analysis based on the new data set suggests that over the 1950--98 period, countries that liberalized their trade regimes experienced average annual growth rates that were about 1.5 percentage points higher than before liberalization. Postliberalization investment rates rose 1.5--2.0 percentage points, confirming past findings that liberalization fosters growth in part through its effect on physical capital accumulation. Liberalization raised the average trade to GDP ratio by roughly 5 percentage points, suggesting that trade policy liberalization did indeed raise the actual level of openness of liberalizers. However, these average effects mask large differences across countries. Copyright The Author 2008. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / the world bank . All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org, Oxford University Press.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/wber/lhn007
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Article provided by World Bank Group in its journal The World Bank Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 22 (2008)
Issue (Month): 2 (June)
Pages: 187-231

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Handle: RePEc:oup:wbecrv:v:22:y:2008:i:2:p:187-231
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  1. Levine, Ross & Renelt, David, 1991. "A sensitivity analysis of cross-country growth regressions," Policy Research Working Paper Series 609, The World Bank.
  2. Alberto F. Ades & Edward L. Glaeser, 1994. "Evidence on Growth, Increasing Returns and the Extent of the Market," NBER Working Papers 4714, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  5. Wacziarg, Romain & Wallack, Jessica Seddon, 2004. "Trade liberalization and intersectoral labor movements," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 411-439, December.
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  9. Jeffrey Sachs & Andrew Warner, 1995. "Economic Reform and the Progress of Global Integration," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1733, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  10. Geert Bekaert & Campbell R. Harvey, 1997. "Foreign Speculators and Emerging Equity Markets," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 79, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  11. Wacziarg, Romain, 2000. "Measuring the Dynamic Gains from Trade," Research Papers 1654, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
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