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The Distance Puzzle: On the Interpretation of the Distance Coefficient in Gravity Equations

  • Claudia M. Buch
  • Jörn Kleinert
  • Farid Toubal

Globalization seems to have diminished the importance of geographical distance. However, empirical studies find that distance coefficients in gravity equations change little over time. This paper argues that changes in distance coefficients do not carry much information on changes in distance costs over time. Changes in distance costs are to a large extent picked up solely in the constant term of gravity models. The distance coefficient instead measures the relative difference between far way and close countries. A proportional fall in distance costs that leads to a proportional increase in economic activity would be consistent with constant distance coefficients.

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File URL: https://www.ifw-members.ifw-kiel.de/publications/the-distance-puzzle-on-the-interpretation-of-the-distance-coefficient-in-gravity-equations/kap1159.pdf
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Paper provided by Kiel Institute for the World Economy in its series Kiel Working Papers with number 1159.

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Length: 25 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:kie:kieliw:1159
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  1. Buch, Claudia M. & Kleinert, Jorn & Toubal, Farid, 2004. "The distance puzzle: on the interpretation of the distance coefficient in gravity equations," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 83(3), pages 293-298, June.
  2. Philippe Martin and Hélène Rey., 2000. "Financial Super-Markets: Size Matters for Asset Trade," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C00-110, University of California at Berkeley.
  3. Edward E. Leamer & Chauncey J. Medberry, 1993. "U.S. Manufacturing and an Emerging Mexico," NBER Working Papers 4331, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Jean-François Brun & Céline Carrère & Patrick Guillaumont & Jaime de Melo, 2005. "Has Distance Died? Evidence from a Panel Gravity Model," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 19(1), pages 99-120.
  5. Alan Deardorff, 1998. "Determinants of Bilateral Trade: Does Gravity Work in a Neoclassical World?," NBER Chapters, in: The Regionalization of the World Economy, pages 7-32 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Frankel, Jeffrey A & Rose, Andrew K, 2000. "An Estimate of the Effect of Currency Unions on Trade and Output," CEPR Discussion Papers 2631, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Simeon Djankov & Caroline Freund, 2002. "New borders: Evidence from the former Soviet Union," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 138(3), pages 493-508, September.
  8. Peter Egger, 2002. "An Econometric View on the Estimation of Gravity Models and the Calculation of Trade Potentials," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 25(2), pages 297-312, 02.
  9. 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.
  10. Leamer, Edward E. & Levinsohn, James, 1995. "International trade theory: The evidence," Handbook of International Economics, in: G. M. Grossman & K. Rogoff (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1339-1394 Elsevier.
  11. Spiros Bougheas & Panicos Demetriades & Edgar Morgenroth, 1996. "Infrastructure, Transport Costs and Trade," Keele Department of Economics Discussion Papers (1995-2001) 96/7, Department of Economics, Keele University.
  12. Richard Portes & =20 H=E9l=E8ne Rey, 2001. "The Determinants of Cross-Border Equity Flows: The Geography of=20 Information," International Finance 0012002, EconWPA.
  13. Jeffrey A. Frankel & Andrew K. Rose, 2000. "Estimating the Effect of Currency Unions on Trade and Output," NBER Working Papers 7857, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. A. Porojan, 2001. "Trade Flows and Spatial Effects: The Gravity Model Revisited," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 265-280, July.
  15. Egger, Peter, 2000. "A note on the proper econometric specification of the gravity equation," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 25-31, January.
  16. Caroline L. Freund & Diana Weinhold, 2000. "On the effect of the Internet on international trade," International Finance Discussion Papers 693, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  17. Buch, Claudia M., 2001. "Distance and International Banking," Kiel Working Papers 1043, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
  18. Toubal, Farid & Kleinert, Jörn & Buch, Claudia M., 2003. "Determinants of German FDI: New Evidence from Micro-Data," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2003,09, Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre.
  19. Robert C. Feenstra & James R. Markusen & Andrew K. Rose, 2001. "Using the gravity equation to differentiate among alternative theories of trade," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 34(2), pages 430-447, May.
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