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Revisiting Ricardo: Can productivity differences explain the pattern of trade between EU countries?

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  • Wilfried Altzinger
  • Joze P. Damijan

Abstract

In this paper we revise the empirical tests of the Ricardian model by testing properly the Ricardian hypotheses on bilateral trade flows. Our tests are based on NACE 2-digit industry aggregation of productivity and of bilateral trade flows between 21 EU member states for the period 1994-2004. We compare the matchings between relative bilateral sectoral productivity rankings and bilateral sectoral exports-to-imports ratio rankings for each of 21 x 20 country pairs. We find that the Ricardian hypothesis is surprisingly good at predicting the static pattern of bilateral trade between individual EU member states even after controlling for the Heckscher-Ohlin type of capital-to-labor ratios. Long-term changes in the bilateral trade patterns, however, do not seem to be explained consistently neither by the variation in changes of relative productivity nor by the variation in changes of capital-to-labor ratios. Furthermore, we find quite a strong autoregressive impact of initial trade patterns on the long-term comparative advantages in the bilateral trade among countries. This implies that comparative advantages are structural by nature and that Ricardian differences in relative productivity can account for a good part of their static representation. Explaining their dynamic evolution over time, however, requires further research.

Suggested Citation

  • Wilfried Altzinger & Joze P. Damijan, 2009. "Revisiting Ricardo: Can productivity differences explain the pattern of trade between EU countries?," LICOS Discussion Papers 23509, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
  • Handle: RePEc:lic:licosd:23509
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    File URL: http://www.econ.kuleuven.be/licos/publications/dp/dp235.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Trefler, Daniel, 1993. "International Factor Price Differences: Leontief Was Right!," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(6), pages 961-987, December.
    2. Harrigan, James, 1999. "Estimation of cross-country differences in industry production functions," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 267-293, April.
    3. Proudman, James & Redding, Stephen, 2000. "Evolving Patterns of International Trade," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 8(3), pages 373-396, August.
    4. Dornbusch, Rudiger & Fischer, Stanley & Samuelson, Paul A, 1977. "Comparative Advantage, Trade, and Payments in a Ricardian Model with a Continuum of Goods," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(5), pages 823-839, December.
    5. Patrik Tingvall, 2004. "The dynamics of European industrial structure," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 140(4), pages 665-687, December.
    6. David Hummels & James Levinsohn, 1995. "Monopolistic Competition and International Trade: Reconsidering the Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 799-836.
    7. Bowen, Harry P & Leamer, Edward E & Sveikauskas, Leo, 1987. "Multicountry, Multifactor Tests of the Factor Abundance Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 791-809, December.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    international trade; productivity; Ricardian hypothesis; empirical tests;

    JEL classification:

    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade

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