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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
Handle: RePEc:kie:kieliw:1159
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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
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  6. 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.
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  9. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2000. "Gravity with Gravitas: A Solution to the Border Puzzle," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 485, Boston College Department of Economics.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. A. Porojan, 2001. "Trade Flows and Spatial Effects: The Gravity Model Revisited," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 265-280, July.
  16. 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.
  17. Peter Egger, . "A Note on the Proper Econometric Specification of the Gravity Equation," WIFO Working Papers 108, WIFO.
  18. Richard Portes & =20 H=E9l=E8ne Rey, 2001. "The Determinants of Cross-Border Equity Flows: The Geography of=20 Information," International Finance 0012002, EconWPA.
  19. 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.).
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