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A re-assessment of German import demand


  • Sabine Stephan

    () (IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation)


Empirical studies analysing German import demand functions traditionally report implausibly high income and relativly low price elasticities. Furthermore, estimation results strongly depend on the observation period. Minor variations in the estimation period typically lead to insignificant price terms often displaying the wrong sign. Based on an extensive econometric analysis, the author shows that these problems are caused by the use of highly aggregated activity variables (GDP or total demand). The problem is easily solved if GDP components, namely exports and investment, are used to model domestic economic activity. We find that imports, exports, investment, and a relative import price form highly stable cointegration relationships. The corresponding activity elasticity is clearly below 1 and the price elasticity is highly significant. Changes in the estimation period neither change the impact nor the significance of the determinants of imports.

Suggested Citation

  • Sabine Stephan, 2007. "A re-assessment of German import demand," IMK Working Paper 08-2007, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:imk:wpaper:08-2007

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Goldstein, Morris & Khan, Mohsin S & Officer, Lawrence H, 1980. "Prices of Tradable and Nontradable Goods in the Demand for Total Imports," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 62(2), pages 190-199, May.
    2. Doornik, Jurgen A, 1998. " Approximations to the Asymptotic Distributions of Cointegration Tests," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(5), pages 573-593, December.
    3. Diebold, Francis X & Mariano, Roberto S, 2002. "Comparing Predictive Accuracy," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 20(1), pages 134-144, January.
    4. Perron, Pierre, 1989. "The Great Crash, the Oil Price Shock, and the Unit Root Hypothesis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(6), pages 1361-1401, November.
    5. Ray Barrell & Dirk Willem te Velde, 2002. "European Integration and Manufactures Import Demand: An Empirical Investigation of Ten European Countries," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 3(3), pages 263-293, August.
    6. Khan, Mohsin S & Ross, Knud Z, 1975. "Cyclical and Secular Income Elasticities of the Demand for Imports," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 57(3), pages 357-361, August.
    7. Goldstein, Morris & Khan, Mohsin S., 1985. "Income and price effects in foreign trade," Handbook of International Economics,in: R. W. Jones & P. B. Kenen (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 20, pages 1041-1105 Elsevier.
    8. Warner, Dennis & Kreinin, Mordechai E, 1983. "Determinants of International Trade Flows," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 65(1), pages 96-104, February.
    9. Barrell, Ray & Dées, Stéphane, 2005. "World trade and global integration in production processes: a re-assessment of import demand equations," Working Paper Series 503, European Central Bank.
    10. Abdelhak Senhadji, 1998. "Time-Series Estimation of Structural Import Demand Equations: A Cross-Country Analysis," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 45(2), pages 236-268, June.
    11. Stock, James H, 1987. "Asymptotic Properties of Least Squares Estimators of Cointegrating Vectors," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(5), pages 1035-1056, September.
    12. Houthakker, Hendrik S & Magee, Stephen P, 1969. "Income and Price Elasticities in World Trade," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 51(2), pages 111-125, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Engelbert Stockhammer & Eckhard Hein & Lucas Grafl, 2011. "Globalization and the effects of changes in functional income distribution on aggregate demand in Germany," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 25(1), pages 1-23.
    2. Projektgruppe Gemeinschaftsdiagnose, 2011. "Gemeinschaftsdiagnose Frühjahr 2011: Aufschwung setzt sich fort - Europäische Schuldenkrise noch ungelöst," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 64(08), pages 03-63, April.

    More about this item


    German import demand equation; price elasticity; income elasticity; activity elasticity; aggregation problems; error correction model;

    JEL classification:

    • C22 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Time-Series Models; Dynamic Quantile Regressions; Dynamic Treatment Effect Models; Diffusion Processes
    • C52 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Model Evaluation, Validation, and Selection
    • F17 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Forecasting and Simulation

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