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Heterogeneous Firms, Globalization and the Distance Puzzle

  • Larch, Mario


    (University of Bayreuth)

  • Norbäck, Pehr-Johan


    (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN))

  • Sirries, Steffen


    (University of Bayreuth)

  • Urban, Dieter


Despite the strong pace of globalization, the distance effect on trade is persistent or even growing over time (Disdier and Head, 2008). To solve this distance puzzle, we use the recently developed gravity equation estimator from Helpman, Melitz and Rubinstein (2008), HMR henceforth. Using three different data sets, we find that the distance coefficient increases over time when OLS is used, while the non-linear estimation of HMR leads to a decline in the distance coefficient over time. The distance puzzle thus arises from a growing bias of OLS estimates. The latter is explained by globalization more significantly reducing the downward bias from omitting zero trade flows than it reduces the upward bias from omitting the number of heterogeneous exporting firms. Furthermore, we show that including zero-trade flows cannot solve the distance puzzle when using HMR. The HMR estimates are strongly correlated with the time pattern in freight costs reported by Hummels (2007).

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Paper provided by Research Institute of Industrial Economics in its series Working Paper Series with number 957.

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Length: 43 pages
Date of creation: 05 Mar 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:iuiwop:0957
Contact details of provider: Postal: Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Box 55665, SE-102 15 Stockholm, Sweden
Phone: +46 8 665 4500
Fax: +46 8 665 4599
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  1. J. M. C. Santos Silva & Silvana Tenreyro, 2015. "Trading Partners and Trading Volumes: Implementing the Helpman–Melitz–Rubinstein Model Empirically," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 77(1), pages 93-105, 02.
  2. 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.
  3. Head, Keith & Mayer, Thierry & Ries, John, 2010. "The erosion of colonial trade linkages after independence," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 1-14, May.
  4. Edward Glaeser & Janet Kohlhase, 2003. "Cities, regions and the decline of transport costs," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 83(1), pages 197-228, October.
  5. 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.
  6. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:123:y:2008:i:2:p:441-487 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. David Hummels, 2007. "Transportation Costs and International Trade in the Second Era of Globalization," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(3), pages 131-154, Summer.
  8. Yotov, Yoto, 2012. "A Simple Solution to the Distance Puzzle in International Trade," School of Economics Working Paper Series 2012-6, LeBow College of Business, Drexel University.
  9. Jean-François BRUN & Céline CARRERE & Patrick GUILLAUMONT & Jaime MELO DE, 2002. "Has Distance Died? Evidence from a Panel Gravity Model," Working Papers 200215, CERDI.
  10. POSCHKE, Markus, 2011. "The Firm Size Distribution across Countries and Skill-Biased Change in Entrepreneurial Technology," Cahiers de recherche 08-2011, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
  11. repec:lmu:muenar:20646 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Rubinstein, Yona & Helpman, Elhanan & Melitz, Marc, 2008. "Estimating Trade Flows: Trading Partners and Trading Volumes," Scholarly Articles 3228230, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  13. Heckman, James J, 1979. "Sample Selection Bias as a Specification Error," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 153-61, January.
  14. Rauch, James E., 1999. "Networks versus markets in international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 7-35, June.
  15. Gilles Duranton & Michael Storper, 2005. "Rising Trade Costs? Agglomeration and Trade with Endogenous Transaction Costs," CEP Discussion Papers dp0683, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  16. Krautheim, Sebastian, 2012. "Heterogeneous firms, exporter networks and the effect of distance on international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 27-35.
  17. Russell Hillberry & David Hummels, 2005. "Trade Responses to Geographic Frictions: A Decomposition Using Micro-Data," NBER Working Papers 11339, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Gabriel J. Felbermayr & Wilhelm Kohler, 2004. "Exploring the Intensive and Extensive Margins of World Trade," CESifo Working Paper Series 1276, CESifo Group Munich.
  19. Baldwin, Richard & Harrigan, James, 2007. "Zeros, Quality and Space: Trade Theory and Trade Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 6368, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  20. Nicita, Alessandro & Olarreaga, Marcelo, 2001. "Trade and production, 1976-99," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2701, The World Bank.
  21. David Hummels & Peter J. Klenow, 2005. "The Variety and Quality of a Nation's Exports," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 704-723, June.
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