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Trade Policy and Economic Growth: A Sceptic's Guide to the Cross-National Evidence

  • Rodríguez, Francisco
  • Rodrik, Dani

Do countries with lower policy-induced barriers to international trade grow faster, once other relevant country characteristics are controlled for? There exists a large empirical literature providing an affirmative answer to this question. We argue that methodological problems with the empirical strategies employed in this literature leave the results open to diverse interpretations. In many cases, the indicators of "openness" used by researchers are poor measures of trade barriers or are highly correlated with other sources of bad economic performance. In other cases, the methods used to ascertain the link between trade policy and growth have serious shortcomings. Papers that we review include Dollar (1992), Ben-David (1993), Sachs and Warner (1995), and Edwards (1998). We find little evidence that open trade policies--in the sense of lower tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade--are significantly associated with economic growth.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 2143.

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Date of creation: May 1999
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:2143
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  1. Edward E. Leamer, 1987. "Measures of Openness," UCLA Economics Working Papers 447, UCLA Department of Economics.
    • Edward E. Leamer, 1988. "Measures of Openness," NBER Chapters, in: Trade Policy Issues and Empirical Analysis, pages 145-204 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Bee Yan Aw & Sukkyun Chung & Mark J. Roberts, 1998. "Productivity and the Decision to Export: Micro Evidence from Taiwan and South Korea," NBER Working Papers 6558, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. David H. Romer & Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1999. "Does Trade Cause Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 379-399, June.
  4. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output per Worker than Others?," NBER Working Papers 6564, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Ben-David, Dan, 1993. "Equalizing Exchange: Trade Liberalization and Income Convergence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(3), pages 653-79, August.
  6. White, Halbert, 1980. "A Heteroskedasticity-Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator and a Direct Test for Heteroskedasticity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 817-38, May.
  7. T. N. Srinivasan, 1997. "As the Century Turns: Analytics, Empirics and Politics of Development," Working Papers 783, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  8. Holger C. Wolf, 1993. "Trade orientation measurement and consequences," Estudios de Economia, University of Chile, Department of Economics, vol. 20(esp Year ), pages 49-86, june.
  9. Srinivasan. T.N., 1997. "As the Century Turns: Analytics, Empirics and Politics of Development," Papers 783, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  10. Pritchett, Lant, 1996. "Measuring outward orientation in LDCs: Can it be done?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 307-335, May.
  11. O'Rourke, Kevin Hjortshøj, 1997. "Tariffs and Growth in the Late Nineteenth Century," CEPR Discussion Papers 1700, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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