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Relationship-Specificity, Incomplete Contracts, and the Pattern of Trade

  • Nathan Nunn

Is a country's ability to enforce contracts an important determinant of comparative advantage? To answer this question, I construct a variable that measures, for each good, the proportion of its intermediate inputs that require relationship-specific investments. Combining this measure with data on trade flows and judicial quality, I find that countries with good contract enforcement specialize in the production of goods for which relationship-specific investments are most important. According to my estimates contract enforcement explains more of the pattern of trade than physical capital and skilled labor combined. Copyright by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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File URL: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1162/qjec.122.2.569
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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal The Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 122 (2007)
Issue (Month): 2 (05)
Pages: 569-600

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:122:y:2007:i:2:p:569-600
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