IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

There goes gravity: how eBay reduces trade costs

  • Lendle, Andreas
  • Olarreaga, Marcelo
  • Schropp, Simon
  • Vézina, Pierre-Louis

We compare the impact of distance, a standard proxy for trade costs, on eBay and offline international trade flows. We consider the same set of 62 countries and the same basket of goods for both types of transactions. We find the effect of distance to be on average 65 percent smaller on the eBay online platform than offline. Using interaction variables, we show this difference is explained by a reduction of information and trust frictions enabled through online technology. We estimate the welfare gains from a reduction in offline frictions to the level prevailing online at 29 percent on average.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 9094.

in new window

Date of creation: Aug 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:9094
Contact details of provider: Postal: Centre for Economic Policy Research, 77 Bastwick Street, London EC1V 3PZ.
Phone: 44 - 20 - 7183 8801
Fax: 44 - 20 - 7183 8820

Order Information: Email:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Arnaud Costinot & Andres Rodriguez-Clare & Costas Arkolakis, 2010. "New Trade Models, Same Old Gains?," 2010 Meeting Papers 433, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Christian Broda & David E. Weinstein, 2006. "Globalization and the Gains from Variety," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(2), pages 541-585, May.
  3. Babur De los Santos & Ali Hortacsu & Matthijs R. Wildenbeest, 2009. "Testing Models of Consumer Search using Data on Web Browsing and Purchasing Behavior," Working Papers 2009-05, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
  4. Elizaveta Archanskaia & Guillaume Daudin, 2012. "Heterogeneity and the Distance Puzzle," FIW Working Paper series 095, FIW.
  5. Carrère, Céline & de Melo, Jaime & Wilson, John, 2009. "The Distance Effect and the Regionalization of the Trade of Low-Income Countries," CEPR Discussion Papers 7458, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. James E. Rauch, 1996. "Networks versus Markets in International Trade," NBER Working Papers 5617, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. James Feyrer, 2009. "Distance, Trade, and Income - The 1967 to 1975 Closing of the Suez Canal as a Natural Experiment," NBER Working Papers 15557, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Maris Goldmanis & Ali Hortacsu & Chad Syverson & Onsel Emre, 2008. "E-commerce and the Market Structure of Retail Industries," NBER Working Papers 14166, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Anne-Célia Disdier & Keith Head, 2004. "The Puzzling Persistence of the Distance Effect on Bilateral Trade," Development Working Papers 186, Centro Studi Luca d\'Agliano, University of Milano.
  10. Ali Hortaçsu & F. Asís Martínez-Jerez & Jason Douglas, 2009. "The Geography of Trade in Online Transactions: Evidence from eBay and MercadoLibre," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 53-74, February.
  11. Blum, Bernardo S. & Goldfarb, Avi, 2006. "Does the internet defy the law of gravity?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 384-405, December.
  12. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2012. "Putting Ricardo to Work," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 26(2), pages 65-90, Spring.
  13. Gregory Lewis, 2011. "Asymmetric Information, Adverse Selection and Online Disclosure: The Case of eBay Motors," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(4), pages 1535-46, June.
  14. Berthelon, Matias & Freund, Caroline, 2004. "On the conservation of distance in international trade," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3293, The World Bank.
  15. Guillaume Daudin & Elizaveta Archanskaia, 2012. "Heterogeneity and distance puzzle," Sciences Po publications 2012-17, Sciences Po.
  16. Treb Allen, 2014. "Information Frictions in Trade," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 82, pages 2041-2083, November.
  17. repec:inr:wpaper:21709 is not listed on IDEAS
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:9094. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.