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The log of gravity

  • Joao Santos Silva
  • Silvana Tenreyro

Although economists have long been aware of Jensen's inequality, many econometric applications have neglected an important implication of it: the standard practice of interpreting the parameters of log-linearized models estimated by ordinary least squares as elasticities can be highly misleading in the presence of heteroskedasticity. This paper explains why this problem arises and proposes an appropriate estimator. Our criticism to conventional practices and the solution we propose extends to a broad range of economic applications where the equation under study is log-linearized. We develop the argument using one particular illustration, the gravity equation for trade, and apply the proposed technique to provide new estimates of this equation. We find significant differences between estimates obtained with the proposed estimator and those obtained with the traditional method. These discrepancies persist even when the gravity equation takes into account multilateral resistance terms or fixed effects

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Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 3744.

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Length: 43 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:3744
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  1. Rose, Andrew, 1999. "One Money, One Market: Estimating the Effect of Common Currencies on Trade," Seminar Papers 678, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  2. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2003. "Gravity with Gravitas: A Solution to the Border Puzzle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 170-192, March.
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  8. Deardorff, A.V., 1995. "Determinants of Bilateral Trade : Does Gravity Work in a Neoclassical World?," Papers 95-05, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
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  13. Wooldridge, Jeffrey M., 1999. "Distribution-free estimation of some nonlinear panel data models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 90(1), pages 77-97, May.
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  27. Boisso, Dale & Ferrantino, Michael, 1997. "Economic Distance, Cultural Distance, and Openness in International Trade : Empirical Puzzles," Journal of Economic Integration, Center for Economic Integration, Sejong University, vol. 12, pages 456-484.
  28. Davis, Donald R., 1995. "Intra-industry trade: A Heckscher-Ohlin-Ricardo approach," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(3-4), pages 201-226, November.
  29. Jon Haveman & David Hummels, 2004. "Alternative hypotheses and the volume of trade: the gravity equation and the extent of specialization," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 37(1), pages 199-218, February.
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  33. 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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