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Ethnic Networks, Information, and International Trade: Revisiting the Evidence

  • Gabriel J. Felbermayr
  • Benjamin Jung
  • Farid Toubal

Influential empirical work by Rauch and Trindade (REStat, 2002) finds that Chinese ethnic networks of the magnitude observed in Southeast Asia increase bilateral trade by at least 60%. We argue that this estimate is upward biased due to omitted variable bias. Moreover, it is partly related to a preference effect rather than to enforcement and/or the availability of information. Applying a theory-based gravity model to ethnicity data for 1980 and 1990, and focusing on pure network effects, we find that the Chinese network leads to a more modest amount of trade creation of about 15%. Using new data on bilateral stocks of migrants from the World Bank for the year of 2000, we extend the analysis to all potential ethnic networks. We find, i.a., evidence for a Polish, a Turkish, a Mexican, or a Pakistani network. While confirming the existence of a Chinese network, its trade creating potential is dwarfed by other ethnic networks. The large heterogeneity in the trade-creating potential of different networks is, among other things, explained by the share of high-skilled immigrants, the degree of ethnic fragmentation, and GDP per capita.

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Paper provided by CEPII research center in its series Working Papers with number 2009-30.

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Date of creation: Dec 2009
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Handle: RePEc:cii:cepidt:2009-30
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  1. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2000. "Gravity with Gravitas: A Solution to the Border Puzzle," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 485, Boston College Department of Economics.
  2. James E. Rauch, 1996. "Networks versus Markets in International Trade," NBER Working Papers 5617, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Baldwin, Richard & Taglioni, Daria, 2006. "Gravity for Dummies and Dummies for Gravity Equations," CEPR Discussion Papers 5850, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Joao Santos Silva & Silvana Tenreyro, 2005. "The Log of Gravity," CEP Discussion Papers dp0701, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  5. Daniel J. Henderson & Daniel L. Millimet, 2008. "Is gravity linear?," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(2), pages 137-172.
  6. James E. Rauch & Vitor Trindade, 2002. "Ethnic Chinese Networks In International Trade," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(1), pages 116-130, February.
  7. Wagner, Don & Head, Keith & Ries, John, 2002. "Immigration and the Trade of Provinces," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 49(5), pages 507-25, December.
  8. Parsons, Christopher R. & Skeldon, Ronald & Walmsley, Terrie L. & Winters, L. Alan, 2007. "Quantifying international migration : a database of bilateral migrant stocks," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4165, The World Bank.
  9. Felbermayr, Gabriel J. & Jung, Benjamin, 2009. "The pro-trade effect of the brain drain: Sorting out confounding factors," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 104(2), pages 72-75, August.
  10. Baier, Scott L. & Bergstrand, Jeffrey H., 2007. "Do free trade agreements actually increase members' international trade?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 72-95, March.
  11. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2004. "Trade Costs," NBER Working Papers 10480, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  14. 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.
  15. Moses, Jonathon W. & Letnes, Bjorn, 2004. "The Economic Costs to International Labor Restrictions: Revisiting the Empirical Discussion," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(10), pages 1609-1626, October.
  16. Combes, Pierre-Philippe & Lafourcade, Miren & Mayer, Thierry, 2005. "The trade-creating effects of business and social networks: evidence from France," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 1-29, May.
  17. James A. Dunlevy, 2006. "The Influence of Corruption and Language on the Protrade Effect of Immigrants: Evidence from the American States," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(1), pages 182-186, February.
  18. Felbermayr, Gabriel & Toubal, Farid, 2012. "Revisiting the Trade-Migration Nexus: Evidence from New OECD Data," Munich Reprints in Economics 20350, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  19. Carolyn L. Evans, 2003. "The Economic Significance of National Border Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1291-1312, September.
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