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Bilateral Trade Flows, the Gravity Equation, and Functional Form


  • Sanso, Marcos
  • Cuairan, Rogelio
  • Sanz, Fernando


The gravity equation has been frequently and successfully used for nearly thirty years to further understanding of the determinants of bilateral trade flows across countries and, subsequently, to analyze commercial policy measures. A maintained hypothesis by the applied literature on international trade as gravity equation loglinearity is questioned in this paper since the possibility of a general functional form is open through Box-Cox transformations. Using data corresponding to the sixteen OECD most developed countries from 1964 to 1987 the authors reach the conclusion that the optimal functional form is slightly, yet statistically, different from the loglinear form in every year of the sample and they are able to propose one unique functional form suitable for all the sample period. Copyright 1993 by MIT Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Sanso, Marcos & Cuairan, Rogelio & Sanz, Fernando, 1993. "Bilateral Trade Flows, the Gravity Equation, and Functional Form," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 75(2), pages 266-275, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:75:y:1993:i:2:p:266-75

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Maria Cipollina & Luca Salvatici, 2010. "Reciprocal Trade Agreements in Gravity Models: A Meta-Analysis," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(1), pages 63-80, February.
    2. Azam, Sardor, 2016. "Trade and Environment: Do Spatial Effects Matter?," MPRA Paper 73113, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Jun 2016.
    3. Novy, Dennis, 2013. "International trade without CES: Estimating translog gravity," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2), pages 271-282.
    4. Muhammad Imtiaz Subhani & Amber Osman & Rabia Khokhar, 2011. "The new version of gravity model in explaining bilateral trade. “A comparative study for developed and developing nations”," EuroEconomica, Danubius University of Galati, issue 28, pages 41-54, May.
    5. Groizard, José Luis & Marques, Helena & Santana, María, 2014. "Islands in trade: Disentangling distance from border effects," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 8, pages 1-46.
    6. I-Hui Cheng & Howard J. Wall, 2005. "Controlling for heterogeneity in gravity models of trade and integration," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jan, pages 49-63.
    7. Paas, Tiiu & Tafenau, Egle, 2005. "European trade integration in the Baltic Sea Region - A gravity model based analysis," HWWA Discussion Papers 331, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWA).
    8. Ramos, Raul & Clar, Miquel & Suriñach, Jordi, 2000. "Trade And Exchange Rate Variability: New Evidence From Eu Countries," ERSA conference papers ersa00p103, European Regional Science Association.
    9. Vangelis Tzouvelekas, 2007. "Accounting for pairwise heterogeneity in bilateral trade flows: a stochastic varying coefficient gravity model," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(12), pages 927-930.
    10. Inmaculada Martínez-Zarzoso, 2013. "The log of gravity revisited," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(3), pages 311-327, January.
    11. FAÍÑA J.Andrés & LÓPEZ-RODRÍGUEZ Jesus, "undated". "Population Potentials and Development Levels: Empirical Findings in the European Union," EcoMod2003 330700050, EcoMod.
    12. Endoh, Masahiro, 1999. "The transition of postwar Asia-Pacific trade relations," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 571-589.
    13. Simone Juhasz Silva & Douglas Nelson, 2012. "Does Aid Cause Trade? Evidence from an Asymmetric Gravity Model," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(5), pages 545-577, May.
    14. Subhani, Muhammad Imtiaz, 2009. "Bilateral trade: a study on SAARC countries," MPRA Paper 36158, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. Robert J. R. Elliott & Kengo Ikemoto, 2004. "AFTA and the Asian Crisis: Help or Hindrance to ASEAN Intra-Regional Trade?," Asian Economic Journal, East Asian Economic Association, vol. 18(1), pages 1-23, March.
    16. Dana Dascal & Konstadinos Mattas & Vangelis Tzouvelekas, 2002. "An analysis of EU wine trade: A gravity model approach," International Advances in Economic Research, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 8(2), pages 135-147, May.
    17. Alexandr Knobel, 2010. "Factors of important Tariff Information," Research Paper Series, Gaidar Institute for Economic Policy, issue 143P.
    18. Thompson, Gary D. & Cepeda, Ricardo Cavazos, 2002. "Gauging The Recent Effects Of The North American Free Trade Agreement," Journal of Food Distribution Research, Food Distribution Research Society, vol. 33(01), March.
    19. Cardamone, Paola, 2007. "A Survey of the Assessments of the Effectiveness of Preferential Trade Agreements using Gravity Models," Economia Internazionale / International Economics, Camera di Commercio Industria Artigianato Agricoltura di Genova, vol. 60(4), pages 421-473.
    20. repec:kap:iaecre:v:8:y:2002:i:2:p:135-147 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Jean-François BRUN & Jaime MELO DE & Patrick GUILLAUMONT, 1998. "La distance abolie ? Critères et mesure de la mondialisation du commerce extérieur," Working Papers 199830, CERDI.

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