IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Estimating Trade Flows: Trading Partners and Trading Volumes

  • Elhanan Helpman

    (Harvard University and CIFAR)

  • Marc Melitz

    (Princeton University, Centre for Economic Policy Research, and National Bureau of Economic Research)

  • Yona Rubinstein

    (Brown University)

We develop a simple model of international trade with heterogeneous firms that is consistent with a number of stylized features of the data. In particular, the model predicts positive as well as zero trade flows across pairs of countries, and it allows the number of exporting firms to vary across destination countries. As a result, the impact of trade frictions on trade flows can be decomposed into the intensive and extensive margins, where the former refers to the trade volume per exporter and the latter refers to the number of exporters. This model yields a generalized gravity equation that accounts for the self-selection of firms into export markets and their impact on trade volumes. We then develop a two-stage estimation procedure that uses an equation for selection into trade partners in the first stage and a trade flow equation in the second. We implement this procedure parametrically, semiparametrically, and nonparametrically, showing that in all three cases the estimated effects of trade frictions are similar. Importantly, our method provides estimates of the intensive and extensive margins of trade. We show that traditional estimates are biased and that most of the bias is due not to selection but rather due to the omission of the extensive margin. Moreover, the effect of the number of exporting firms varies across country pairs according to their characteristics. This variation is large and particularly so for trade between developed and less developed countries and between pairs of less developed countries. (c) 2008 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology..

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1162/qjec.2008.123.2.441
File Function: link to full text
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 123 (2008)
Issue (Month): 2 (05)
Pages: 441-487

as
in new window

Handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:123:y:2008:i:2:p:441-487
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://mitpress.mit.edu/journals/

Order Information: Web: http://mitpress.mit.edu/journal-home.tcl?issn=00335533

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Marc J. Melitz, 2003. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(6), pages 1695-1725, November.
  2. David H. Romer & Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1999. "Does Trade Cause Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 379-399, June.
  3. Andrew K. Rose, 1999. "One Money, One Market: Estimating the Effect of Common Currencies on Trade," NBER Working Papers 7432, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Djankov, Simeon & La Porta, Rafael & Shleifer, Andrei & Lopez de Silanes, Florencio, 2001. "The regulation of entry," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2661, The World Bank.
  5. J. M. C. Santos Silva & Silvana Tenreyro, 2006. "The Log of Gravity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(4), pages 641-658, November.
  6. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output per Worker than Others?," NBER Working Papers 6564, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Jon Haveman & David Hummels, 2004. "Alternative hypotheses and the volume of trade: the gravity equation and the extent of specialization," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 37(1), pages 199-218, February.
  8. 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.
  9. repec:rus:hseeco:122439 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum & Francis Kramarz, 2004. "Dissecting Trade: Firms, Industries, and Export Destinations," NBER Working Papers 10344, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Timothy J. Kehoe & Kim J. Ruhl, 2009. "How important is the new goods margin in international trade?," Staff Report 324, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  12. Davis, Donald R. & Weinstein, David E., 2003. "Market access, economic geography and comparative advantage: an empirical test," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 1-23, January.
  13. Silvana Tenreyro & Robert J. Barro, 2003. "Economic Effects of Currency Unions," NBER Working Papers 9435, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Elhanan Helpman & Marc Melitz & Yona Rubinstein, 2008. "Estimating Trade Flows: Trading Partners and Trading Volumes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(2), pages 441-487, 05.
  15. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2004. "Trade Costs," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 593, Boston College Department of Economics.
  16. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2001. "Gravity with Gravitas: A Solution to the Border Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 8079, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Andrew B Bernard & Jonathan Eaton & J. Bradford Jensen & Samuel Kortum, 2000. "Plants and productivity in international trade," Working Papers 00-08, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  18. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2005. "The Economic Effects of Constitutions," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262661926, June.
  19. Shang-Jin Wei, 1996. "Intra-National versus International Trade: How Stubborn are Nations in Global Integration?," NBER Working Papers 5531, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. repec:rus:hseeco:123558 is not listed on IDEAS
  21. Subramanian, Arvind & Wei, Shang-Jin, 2007. "The WTO promotes trade, strongly but unevenly," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 151-175, May.
  22. Anderson, James E, 1979. "A Theoretical Foundation for the Gravity Equation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(1), pages 106-16, March.
  23. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Peter K. Schott, 2005. "Importers, Exporters, and Multinationals: A Portrait of Firms in the U.S. that Trade Goods," Working Paper Series WP05-10, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  24. Helpman, Elhanan, 1987. "Imperfect competition and international trade: Evidence from fourteen industrial countries," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 62-81, March.
  25. 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.
  26. Andrew K. Rose, 2002. "Do We Really Know that the WTO Increases Trade?," NBER Working Papers 9273, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. Carolyn L. Evans, 2003. "The Economic Significance of National Border Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1291-1312, September.
  28. Felbermayr, Gabriel & Kohler, Wilhelm K., 2006. "Exploring the intensive and extensive margins of world trade," Munich Reprints in Economics 20610, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  29. Feenstra, Robert C, 2002. "Border Effects and the Gravity Equation: Consistent Methods for Estimation," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 49(5), pages 491-506, December.
  30. Jeffrey A. Frankel & David Romer, 1996. "Trade and Growth: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 5476, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  31. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2002. "Technology, Geography, and Trade," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(5), pages 1741-1779, September.
  32. McCallum, John, 1995. "National Borders Matter: Canada-U.S. Regional Trade Patterns," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 615-23, June.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:123:y:2008:i:2:p:441-487. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Anna Pollock-Nelson)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.