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Technology, factor supplies, and international specialization: estimating the neoclassical model

  • James Harrigan

The standard neoclassical model of trade theory predicts that international specialization will be jointly determined by cross-country differences in relative factor endowments and relative technology levels. This paper uses economic theory to specify an empirical model of specialization consistent with the neoclassical explanation. According to the empirical model, a sector's share in GDP depends on both relative factor supplies and relative technology differences, and the estimated parameters of the model have a close and clear connection to theoretical parameters. The model is estimated for manufacturing sectors using a twenty-year, ten-country panel of data on the industrialized countries. Relative technology levels and factor supplies are both found to be an important determinant of specialization.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of New York in its series Staff Reports with number 15.

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Date of creation: 1996
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in American Economic Review 87, no. 4 (September 1997): 475-94
Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:15
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  1. Leamer, E. & Levingsohn, J., 1994. "International Trade Theory: The Evidence," Working Papers 368, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
  2. Richard A. Brecher & Ehsan U. Choudhri, 1993. "Some Empirical Support for the Heckscher-Ohlin Model of Production," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 26(2), pages 272-85, May.
  3. Staiger, Robert W., 1988. "A specification test of the Heckscher-Ohlin theory," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1-2), pages 129-141, August.
  4. Trefler, Daniel, 1993. "International Factor Price Differences: Leontief Was Right!," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(6), pages 961-87, December.
  5. 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.
  6. Barro, Robert J. & Lee, Jong-Wha, 1993. "International comparisons of educational attainment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 363-394, December.
  7. Harry P. Bowen & Edward E. Leamer & Leo Sveikauskas, 1986. "Multicountry, Multifactor Tests of the Factor Abundance Theory," NBER Working Papers 1918, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Caves, Douglas W & Christensen, Laurits R & Diewert, W Erwin, 1982. "Multilateral Comparisons of Output, Input, and Productivity Using Superlative Index Numbers," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 92(365), pages 73-86, March.
  9. Diewert, W. Erwin, 1978. "Hick's Aggregation Theorem and the Existence of a Real Value Added Function," Histoy of Economic Thought Chapters, in: Fuss, Melvyn & McFadden, Daniel (ed.), Production Economics: A Dual Approach to Theory and Applications, volume 2, chapter 2 McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought.
  10. Deardorff, Alan V., 1984. "Testing trade theories and predicting trade flows," Handbook of International Economics, in: R. W. Jones & P. B. Kenen (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 10, pages 467-517 Elsevier.
  11. Markusen, James R, 1986. "Explaining the Volume of Trade: An Eclectic Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(5), pages 1002-11, December.
  12. James Harrigan, 1998. "Estimation of cross-country differences in industry production functions," Staff Reports 36, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  13. Klepper, Steven & Leamer, Edward E, 1984. "Consistent Sets of Estimates for Regressions with Errors in All Variables," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(1), pages 163-83, January.
  14. James Harrigan, 1997. "Cross-country comparisons of industry total factor productivity: theory and evidence," Research Paper 9734, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  15. Helpman, Elhanan, 1984. "Increasing returns, imperfect markets, and trade theory," Handbook of International Economics, in: R. W. Jones & P. B. Kenen (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 7, pages 325-365 Elsevier.
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