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Testing the General Validity of the Heckscher-Ohlin Theorem: The Natural Experiment of Japan

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  • Daniel M. Bernhofen
  • John C. Brown

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel M. Bernhofen & John C. Brown, 2009. "Testing the General Validity of the Heckscher-Ohlin Theorem: The Natural Experiment of Japan," Global COE Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series gd09-058, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  • Handle: RePEc:hst:ghsdps:gd09-058
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    File URL: http://gcoe.ier.hit-u.ac.jp/research/discussion/2008/pdf/gd09-058.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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, pages 208-225.
    4. A. D. Woodland, 1980. "Direct and Indirect Trade Utility Functions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(5), pages 907-926.
    5. Bowen, Harry P & Leamer, Edward E & Sveikauskas, Leo, 1987. "Multicountry, Multifactor Tests of the Factor Abundance Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 791-809.
    6. 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.
    7. Bowen, Harry P & Leamer, Edward E & Sveikauskas, Leo, 1987. "Multicountry, Multifactor Tests of the Factor Abundance Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 791-809.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Daniel M. Bernhofen, "undated". "The Empirics of General Equilibrium Trade Theory: What Have We Learned?," Discussion Papers 10/24, University of Nottingham, GEP.
    2. Cheng, Wenya & Morrow, John & Tacharoen, Kitjawat, 2012. "Productivity as if space mattered: an application to factor markets across China," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 48930, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    3. Assaf Zimring, 2015. "Testing the Heckscher-Ohlin-Vanek Theory with a Natural Experiment," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 15-243, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F11 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Neoclassical Models of Trade
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N75 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - Asia including Middle East

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