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In search of scale effects in trade and growth

  • David K. Backus
  • Patrick J. Kehoe
  • Timothy J. Kehoe

We look for the scale effects predicted by some theories of trade and growth based on the dynamic returns to scale that arise from learning by doing, investment in human capital, or development of new products. We find little empirical evidence of a relation between the growth rate of GDP per capita and the measures of scale implied by the theory. Restricting attention to the manufacturing sector, however, we find a significant relation between the growth rate of output per worker and the relevant scale variables. We also find that growth rates are significantly related to measures of intra-industry trade.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in its series Staff Report with number 152.

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Date of creation: 1992
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Journal of Economic Theory (Vol. 58, No. 2, December 1992, pp. 377-409)
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmsr:152
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  1. Helpman, Elhanan & Grossman, Gene M., 1989. "Product Development and International Trade," Scholarly Articles 3445094, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Grossman, G.M. & Helpman, E., 1989. "Quality Ledders In The Theory Of Growth," Papers 148, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
  3. Grossman, G.M. & Helpman, E., 1989. "Quality Ladders And Product Cycles," Papers 39-89, Tel Aviv.
  4. Edwards, Sebastian, 1989. "Openness, outward orientation, trade liberalization, and economic performance in developing countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 191, The World Bank.
  5. Murphy, Kevin M. & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W., 1989. "Industrialization and the Big Push," Scholarly Articles 3606235, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  6. Paul M. Romer, 1989. "Human Capital And Growth: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 3173, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Romer, Paul M, 1990. "Endogenous Technological Change," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages S71-102, October.
  8. Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1977. "Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(3), pages 297-308, June.
  9. Aghion, P. & Howitt, P., 1989. "A Model Of Growth Through Creative Destruction," Working papers 527, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  10. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
  11. Romer, Paul M., 1989. "What determines the rate of growth and technological change?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 279, The World Bank.
  12. Michele Boldrin & Jose A. Scheinkman, 1988. "Learning-By-Doing, International Trade and Growth: A Note," UCLA Economics Working Papers 462, UCLA Department of Economics.
  13. Nancy L Stokey, 1986. "Learning-by-Doing and the Introduction of New Goods," Discussion Papers 699, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science, revised May 1987.
  14. Luis A. Rivera-Batiz & Paul M. Romer, 1990. "Economic Integration and Endogenous Growth," NBER Working Papers 3528, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Kormendi, Roger C. & Meguire, Philip G., 1985. "Macroeconomic determinants of growth: Cross-country evidence," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 141-163, September.
  16. Robert J. Barro & Paul Romer, 1993. "Economic Growth," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number barr93-1.
    • Robert J. Barro & Paul M. Romer, 1991. "Economic Growth," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number barr91-1.
  17. Barro, R.J., 1989. "Economic Growth In A Cross Section Of Countries," RCER Working Papers 201, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  18. Romer, Paul M, 1987. "Growth Based on Increasing Returns Due to Specialization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(2), pages 56-62, May.
  19. Argote, L. & Epple, D., 1990. "Learning Curves In Manufacturing," GSIA Working Papers 89-90-02, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  20. Clemhout, S & Wan, H Y, Jr, 1970. "Learning-by-Doing and Infant Industry Protection," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(1), pages 33-56, January.
  21. John S. Chipman, 1970. "Induced Technical Change and Patterns of International Trade," NBER Chapters, in: The Technology Factor in International Trade, pages 95-142 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Michaely, Michael, 1977. "Exports and growth : An empirical investigation," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 49-53, February.
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