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An Elementary Theory of Global Supply Chains

  • Arnaud Costinot
  • Jonathan E. Vogel
  • Su Wang

This paper develops an elementary theory of global supply chains. We consider a world economy with an arbitrary number of countries, one factor of production, a continuum of intermediate goods, and one final good. Production of the final good is sequential and subject to mistakes. In the unique free trade equilibrium, countries with lower probabilities of making mistakes at all stages specialize in later stages of production. Because of the sequential nature of production, absolute productivity differences are a source of comparative advantage among nations. Using this simple theoretical framework, we offer a first look at how vertical specialization shapes the interdependence of nations.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3402.

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Date of creation: 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3402
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  1. Luis Garicano, 2000. "Hierarchies and the Organization of Knowledge in Production," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(5), pages 874-904, October.
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  9. Jonathan Vogel & Arnaud Costinot, 2008. "Matching and Inequality in the World Economy," 2008 Meeting Papers 879, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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  12. Richard Baldwin & Anthony Venables, 2010. "Spiders and snakes: offshoring and agglomeration in the global economy," NBER Working Papers 16611, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Hummels, David & Ishii, Jun & Yi, Kei-Mu, 2001. "The nature and growth of vertical specialization in world trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 75-96, June.
  14. Pol Antras & Luis Garicano & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2005. "Offshoring in a Knowledge Economy," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2067, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  15. Hallak, Juan Carlos, 2006. "Product quality and the direction of trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 238-265, January.
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  17. Paul R. Bergin & Robert C. Feenstra & Gordon H. Hanson, 2009. "Offshoring and Volatility: Evidence from Mexico's Maquiladora Industry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1664-71, September.
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  19. Feenstra, Robert C & Hanson, Gordon H, 1996. "Globalization, Outsourcing, and Wage Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 240-45, May.
  20. Sly, Nicholas, 2008. "Labor Matching Behavior in Open Economies and Trade Adjustment," MPRA Paper 25693, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Oct 2010.
  21. Philipp Harms & Oliver Lorz & Dieter Urban, 2009. "Offshoring Along the Production Chain," Working Papers 09.01, Swiss National Bank, Study Center Gerzensee.
  22. Pablo Fajgelbaum & Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 2011. "Income Distribution, Product Quality, and International Trade," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(4), pages 721 - 765.
  23. Flam, Harry & Helpman, Elhanan, 1987. "Vertical Product Differentiation and North-South Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 810-22, December.
  24. Juan Carlos Hallak, 2010. "A Product-Quality View of the Linder Hypothesis," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(3), pages 453-466, August.
  25. Emily Blanchard & Gerald Willmann, 2013. "Trade, Education, and The Shrinking Middle Class," Kiel Working Papers 1831, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
  26. Arnaud Costinot, 2009. "An Elementary Theory of Comparative Advantage," NBER Working Papers 14645, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. Juan Carlos Hallak & Peter K. Schott, 2008. "Estimating Cross-Country Differences in Product Quality," NBER Working Papers 13807, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  28. Arndt, Sven W., 1997. "Globalization and the open economy," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 71-79.
  29. Egger, Hartmut & Falkinger, Josef, 2003. "The distributional effects of international outsourcing in a 2 x 2 production model," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 189-206, August.
  30. Franziska Ohnsorge & Daniel Trefler, 2007. "Sorting It Out: International Trade with Heterogeneous Workers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115(5), pages 868-892, October.
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