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The Global Economics of Water: Is Water A Source of Comparative Advantage?

  • Debaere, Peter
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    Freshwater scarcity is bound to be a major challenge of the 21st century. Drawing on newly available data, I investigate to what extent countries make efficient use of the very uneven water resources on a global scale. In particular, I find that countries that are relatively water abundant tend to export more water-intensive products. This evidence supports the hypothesis that water is a source of comparative advantage. My findings also indicate that water contributes significantly less to the pattern of exports than the traditional production factors such as labor and physical capital. In light of climate change, this suggests relatively moderate disruptions to trade on a global scale due to changing precipitation patterns. My results do not provide consistent evidence that there is a difference in the extent to which water determines the pattern of trade between water-scarce and water-abundant countries.

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    Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 9030.

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    Date of creation: Jul 2012
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    Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:9030
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    1. Arnaud Costinot, 2009. "An Elementary Theory of Comparative Advantage," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(4), pages 1165-1192, 07.
    2. A. Colin Cameron & Jonah B. Gelbach & Douglas L. Miller, 2006. "Robust Inference with Multi-way Clustering," NBER Technical Working Papers 0327, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Werner Antweiler & Daniel Trefler, 2002. "Increasing Returns and All That: A View from Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 93-119, March.
    4. Nunn, Nathan, 2007. "Relationship-Specificity, Incomplete Contracts, and the Pattern of Trade," Scholarly Articles 4686801, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    5. Andrei A. Levchenko, 2007. "Institutional Quality and International Trade," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(3), pages 791-819.
    6. Jedidiah Brewer & Robert Glennon & Alan Ker & Gary Libecap, 2007. "Water Markets in the West: Prices, Trading, and Contractual Forms," ICER Working Papers 30-2007, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research.
    7. Wichelns, Dennis, 2004. "The policy relevance of virtual water can be enhanced by considering comparative advantages," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 49-63, April.
    8. Young, Robert A. & Haveman, Robert H., 1985. "Economics of water resources: a survey," Handbook of Natural Resource and Energy Economics, in: A. V. Kneeseā€  & J. L. Sweeney (ed.), Handbook of Natural Resource and Energy Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 11, pages 465-529 Elsevier.
    9. Robert E. Baldwin, 2008. "The Development and Testing of Heckscher-Ohlin Trade Models: A Review," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262026562, June.
    10. Jedidiah Brewer & Robert Glennon & Alan Ker & Gary D. Libecap, 2007. "Water Markets in the West: Prices, Trading, and Contractual Forms," NBER Working Papers 13002, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Trefler, Daniel, 1995. "The Case of the Missing Trade and Other Mysteries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1029-46, December.
    12. Debaere, Peter & Demiroglu, Ufuk, 2003. "On the similarity of country endowments," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 101-136, January.
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