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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. 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.
  2. P Martin & H Rey, 2000. "Financial Super-Markets: Size Matters for Asset Trade," CEP Discussion Papers dp0450, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  3. Peter Egger, . "A Note on the Proper Econometric Specification of the Gravity Equation," WIFO Working Papers 108, WIFO.
  4. Claudia M. Buch, 2001. "Distance and International Banking," Kiel Working Papers 1043, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
  5. Claudia M. Buch & Jörn Kleinert & Farid Toubal, 2003. "The Distance Puzzle: On the Interpretation of the Distance Coefficient in Gravity Equations," Kiel Working Papers 1159, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
  6. 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.
  7. Edward E. Leamer & Chauncey J. Medberry, 1993. "U.S. Manufacturing and an Emerging Mexico," NBER Working Papers 4331, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  9. Brun, Jean-François & Carrère, Céline & de Melo, Jaime & Guillaumont, Patrick, 2002. "Has Distance Died? Evidence from a Panel Gravity Model," CEPR Discussion Papers 3500, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Alan V. Deardorff, 1995. "Determinants of Bilateral Trade: Does Gravity Work in a Neoclassical World?," NBER Working Papers 5377, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Simeon Djankov & Caroline Freund, 2002. "New borders: Evidence from the former Soviet Union," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 138(3), pages 493-508, September.
  12. Bougheas, Spiros & Demetriades, Panicos O. & Morgenroth, Edgar L. W., 1999. "Infrastructure, transport costs and trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 169-189, February.
  13. 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.
  14. Edward E. Leamer & James Levinsohn, 1994. "International Trade Theory: The Evidence," NBER Working Papers 4940, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. 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.).
  16. 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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