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Endogenous Borders? Exploring a Natural Experiment on Border Effects

  • Heinemeyer, Hans Christian
  • Schulze, Max Stephan
  • Wolf, Nikolaus

A large literature documents the impact of borders on trade. However, in all these studies border effects are identified from cross-sectional variation alone. We do not know the "treatment effect" of borders nor can we rule out reverse causation. Here, we exploit the border changes imposed across Europe by the peace treaties in 1919-20 as a natural experiment. We estimate the effects of borders on trade with a difference in difference approach and find that the "treatment effects" of borders are significantly smaller than the pure cross-sectional effects. We show that this is related to ethno-linguistic networks. Borders shape trade, and trade shapes borders.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6909.

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Date of creation: Jul 2008
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6909
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  1. Charles Engel & John H. Rogers, 1995. "How wide is the border?," Research Working Paper 95-09, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  2. Besley, Timothy & Case, Anne, 2000. "Unnatural Experiments? Estimating the Incidence of Endogenous Policies," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(467), pages F672-94, November.
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  4. Volker Nitsch & Nikolaus Wolf, 2013. "Tear down this wall: on the persistence of borders in trade," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 46(1), pages 154-179, February.
  5. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275, February.
  6. Hillberry, Russell & Hummels, David, 2008. "Trade responses to geographic frictions: A decomposition using micro-data," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 527-550, April.
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  11. Schulze, Max Stephan & Wolf, Nikolaus, 2007. "On the Origins of Border Effects: Insights from the Habsburg Customs Union," CEPR Discussion Papers 6327, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  16. Hans Christian Heinemeyer, 2007. "The treatment effect of borders on trade. The great war and the disintegration of Central Europe," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 1(3), pages 177-210, October.
  17. Wolf, Nikolaus & Ritschl, Albrecht, 2003. "Endogeneity of Currency Areas and Trade Blocs: Evidence from the Inter-War Period," Papers 2004,10, Humboldt-Universität Berlin, Center for Applied Statistics and Economics (CASE).
  18. 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.
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  21. Wolf, Nikolaus, 2005. "Path dependent border effects: the case of Poland's reunification (1918-1939)," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 414-438, July.
  22. Greif, Avner, 1993. "Contract Enforceability and Economic Institutions in Early Trade: the Maghribi Traders' Coalition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 525-48, June.
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