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Testing the general validity of the Heckscher-Ohlin Theorem: the natural experiment of Japan

  • Bernhofen, Daniel M.
  • Brown, John C.

We exploit Japan's 19th century opening up to trade to test a general formulation of the Heckscher-Ohlin theorem. This formulation is based on Ohlin's measure of factor scarcity where autarky factor prices impose a refutable prediction on the economy's factor content of trade. Our test combines factor price data in Japan's autarky period with commodity trade data and a technology matrix in Japan's early free trade period. Our technology matrix is derived from a major Japanese survey of agricultural techniques during the early Meiji period, accounts by European visitors and numerous studies by Japanese and western scholars that draw on village records, business accounts and other historical sources. Evaluating Japan's factor content of trade during 1868-1875 at the corresponding autarky factor prices, we fail to reject the Heckscher-Ohlin prediction in each sample year.

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File URL: http://hermes-ir.lib.hit-u.ac.jp/rs/bitstream/10086/17292/1/070ccesDP_13.pdf
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Paper provided by Center for Research on Contemporary Economic Systems, Graduate School of Economics, Hitotsubashi University in its series CCES Discussion Paper Series with number 13.

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Length: 50 p.
Date of creation: Apr 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hit:ccesdp:13
Note: March 31, 2009
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Web page: http://www.econ.hit-u.ac.jp/~cces/
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  1. Huberman, Michael & Minns, Chris, 2007. "The times they are not changin': Days and hours of work in Old and New Worlds, 1870-2000," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 44(4), pages 538-567, October.
  2. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521450539 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. 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.
  4. Daniel M. Bernhofen & John C. Brown, 2004. "A Direct Test of the Theory of Comparative Advantage: The Case of Japan," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(1), pages 48-67, February.
  5. Woodland, Alan D, 1980. "Direct and Indirect Trade Utility Functions," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(5), pages 907-26, October.
  6. Daniel M. Bernhofen & John C. Brown, 2005. "An Empirical Assessment of the Comparative Advantage Gains from Trade: Evidence from Japan," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 208-225, March.
  7. Osamu Saito & Tokihiko Settsu, 2006. "Money, credit and Smithian growth in Tokugawa Japan," Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series d05-139, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
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