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Using the gravity equation to differentiate among alternative theories of trade


  • Robert C. Feenstra
  • James R. Markusen
  • Andrew K. Rose


The simple gravity equation explains a great deal about the data on bilateral trade flows and is consistent with several theoretical models of trade. We argue that alternative theories nevertheless predict subtle differences in key parameter values, depending on whether goods are homogeneous or differentiated and whether or not there are barriers to entry. Our empirical work for differentiated goods delivers results consistent with the theoretical predictions of the monopolistic‐competition model, or a reciprocal‐dumping model with free entry. Homogeneous goods are described by a model with national (Armington) product differentiation or by a reciprocal‐dumping model with barriers to entry. JEL Classification: F10, F12 Equation de gravité et différenciation entre diverses théories du commerce international. La simple équation de gravité fournit une bonne part d'explication des flux de commerce bilatéraux et donne des résultats compatibles avec plusieurs modèles de commerce international. Les auteurs suggèrent que les diverses théories prédisent néanmoins des différences subtiles dans les valeurs de paramètres clés, selon que les biens sont homogènes ou différenciés, et qu'il y a barrières ou non à l'entrée. Le travail empirique des auteurs livre des résultats compatibles avec les prévisions théoriques du modèle de concurrence monopolistique ou du modèle de dumping réciproque avec entrée libre. On décrit les flux de biens homogènes à l'aide d'un modèle de différenciation nationale de produit à la Armington ou par un modèle de dumping réciproque avec barrières à l'entrée.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert C. Feenstra & James R. Markusen & Andrew K. Rose, 2001. "Using the gravity equation to differentiate among alternative theories of trade," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 34(2), pages 430-447, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:canjec:v:34:y:2001:i:2:p:430-447
    DOI: 10.1111/0008-4085.00082

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    JEL classification:

    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General
    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation


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