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Comparative Advantage and the Cross-section of Business Cycles

  • Aart Kraay
  • Jaume Ventura

Business cycles are both less volatile and more synchronized with the world cycle in rich countries than in poor ones. We develop two alternative explanations based on the idea that comparative advantage causes rich countries to specialize in industries that use new technologies operated by skilled workers whereas poor countries specialize in industries that use traditional technologies operated by unskilled workers. (1) Because new technologies are difficult to imitate, the industries of rich countries enjoy more market power and face more inelastic product demand than those of poor countries. (2) Because skilled workers are less likely to exit employment as a result of changes in economic conditions, industries in rich countries face more inelastic labor supplies than those of poor countries. We show that either asymmetry in industry characteristics can generate cross-country differences in business cycles that resemble those we observe in the data. (JEL: E32, FA5, F41) (c) 2007 by the European Economic Association.

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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Journal of the European Economic Association.

Volume (Year): 5 (2007)
Issue (Month): 6 (December)
Pages: 1300-1333

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:jeurec:v:5:y:2007:i:6:p:1300-1333
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