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Why Do Nations Trade (So Little)?


  • James E. Anderson

    () (Boston College)


There isn't nearly as much trade as standard models suggest there should be. Formal trade barriers and transport costs are too low to account for the difference. The pattern of missing trade has interesting variation across country pairs. These clues suggest the need for theoretical and eventually structural empirical work on the missing transactions costs. This paper reviews recent empirical findings and some promising research directions in search, predation and contract theory.

Suggested Citation

  • James E. Anderson, 1999. "Why Do Nations Trade (So Little)?," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 428, Boston College Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:boc:bocoec:428

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. James R. Markusen, 1995. "The Boundaries of Multinational Enterprises and the Theory of International Trade," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 169-189, Spring.
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    7. Robert W. Staiger & Kyle Bagwell, 1999. "An Economic Theory of GATT," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 215-248, March.
    8. Anderson James E & Young Leslie, 2006. "Trade and Contract Enforcement," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-36, November.
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    12. James E. Rauch & Alessandra Casella, 2003. "Overcoming Informational Barriers to International Resource Allocation: Prices and Ties," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(484), pages 21-42, January.
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    16. Casella, Alessandra & Rauch, James E., 2002. "Anonymous market and group ties in international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 19-47, October.
    17. James E. Anderson & Douglas Marcouiller, 1997. "Trade and Security,I: Anarchy," NBER Working Papers 6223, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Greif, Avner & Milgrom, Paul & Weingast, Barry R, 1994. "Coordination, Commitment, and Enforcement: The Case of the Merchant Guild," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(4), pages 745-776, August.
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    20. Trefler, Daniel, 1995. "The Case of the Missing Trade and Other Mysteries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1029-1046, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Frank A.G. den Butter & Raphie Hayat, 0000. "Trade between China and the Netherlands: a Case Study of Globalization," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 08-016/3, Tinbergen Institute.
    2. Enzo Croce & V. Hugo Juan-Ramon & Feng Zhu, 2004. "Performance of Western Hemisphere Trading Blocs; A Cost-Corrected Gravity Approach," IMF Working Papers 04/109, International Monetary Fund.
    3. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2004. "Trade Costs," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(3), pages 691-751, September.
    4. Baltagi, Badi H. & Egger, Peter & Pfaffermayr, Michael, 2007. "Estimating models of complex FDI: Are there third-country effects?," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 140(1), pages 260-281, September.
    5. Koeniger, Winfried, 2002. "Defensive Innovations," IZA Discussion Papers 454, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Howard J. Wall, 2000. "Gravity model specification and the effects of the Canada-U.S. border," Working Papers 2000-024, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    7. Marjit, Sugata & Mandal, Biswajit, 2009. "General Trading Costs in Pure Theory of International Trade," MPRA Paper 19290, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Gert-Jan Linders, 2004. "The Effect of Domestic Institutions on International Trade Flows: A sectoral analysis," ERSA conference papers ersa04p357, European Regional Science Association.
    9. Enrico Spolaore, 2004. "Economic Integration, International Conflict and Political Unions," Rivista di Politica Economica, SIPI Spa, vol. 94(5), pages 3-50, September.

    More about this item


    trade costs; gravity;

    JEL classification:

    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations

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