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Borders, Endogenous Market Access and Growth


  • Tomasz Michalski


We discuss the role of contracting impediments created by the existence of national borders on open economy growth. In a two-good neoclassical Ramsey growth model with lack of enforcement on international trade contracts we show that endogenous trading constraints with positive trade may arise on the transition path towards an open-economy steady state. These constraints may bind more severely low-income economies. Dynamic incentives to fulfill international contracts are easier to provide to high-income agents that have a stronger love-of-variety and investment motives to trade internationally. Investment in capital serves thus as a commitment device. The extent of the impediments may render countries unable to engage in international exchange at all, in effect keeping them in a poverty trap. Countries with dissimilar initial capital per capita may converge to different steady states. Contracting problems in international exchange may block the channel through which, as many researchers believe, international trade affects growth by increasing investment rates. The model provides a new explanation for the correlations observed in the data, for example that the trade/GDP ratio across countries is positively related with income per capita. Our model and its extensions add to the understanding of a number of puzzles (inter alia "the missing trade") in international economics. Using new data on trade credit in international transactions we provide correlations supporting the view that collection risks hinder international exchange. Policy implications stress the role of promoting contract enforcement and trade liberalization.

Suggested Citation

  • Tomasz Michalski, 2006. "Borders, Endogenous Market Access and Growth," DEGIT Conference Papers c011_007, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
  • Handle: RePEc:deg:conpap:c011_007

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
    2. Jonathan Thomas & Tim Worrall, 1994. "Foreign Direct Investment and the Risk of Expropriation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 61(1), pages 81-108.
    3. Gary D. Hansen & Edward C. Prescott, 2002. "Malthus to Solow," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1205-1217, September.
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    More about this item


    trade; growth; limited commitment; borders; poverty trap;

    JEL classification:

    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law
    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems
    • F43 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Economic Growth of Open Economies
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance
    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity

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