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Captial Accumulation and the Welfare Gains from Trade


  • Wyatt J. Brooks
  • Pau S. Pujolas


We measure the gains from a trade cost reduction in a model with dynamic accumulation of factors. We show that the tight link between import intensity and gains from trade that exists in static models breaks down along transition paths in dynamic models. When trade costs are reduced, the need to accumulate factors temporarily shifts spending from consumption to investment. Import intensity may rise or fall along the transition path, depending on the relative import intensity of consumption and investment. Calibrating the model to the U.S. economy, we find that investment is more import intensive than consumption, so that import intensity is falling along the transition path even as consumption is rising. Therefore, while higher import intensity is associated with higher consumption when comparing steady states (as in static models), it is associated with lower consumption along a given transition path. We also consider the case of endogenous firm creation as another form of investment and factor accumulation, and again find a negative relationship between consumption and import intensity along the transition path.

Suggested Citation

  • Wyatt J. Brooks & Pau S. Pujolas, 2016. "Captial Accumulation and the Welfare Gains from Trade," Department of Economics Working Papers 2016-03, McMaster University, revised Jul 2017.
  • Handle: RePEc:mcm:deptwp:2016-03

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Claustre Bajona & Timothy Kehoe, 2010. "Trade, Growth, and Convergence in a Dynamic Heckscher-Ohlin Model," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 13(3), pages 487-513, July.
    2. Alessandria, George & Choi, Horag, 2014. "Establishment heterogeneity, exporter dynamics, and the effects of trade liberalization," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(2), pages 207-223.
    3. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum & Francis Kramarz, 2011. "An Anatomy of International Trade: Evidence From French Firms," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 79(5), pages 1453-1498, September.
    4. George Alessandria & Horag Choi & Kim Ruhl, 2014. "Trade Adjustment Dynamics and the Welfare Gains from Trade," Working Papers 14-11, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
    5. Wyatt J. Brooks & Pau S. Pujolàs, 2014. "Nonlinear Gravity," Department of Economics Working Papers 2014-15, McMaster University.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ravikumar, B. & Santacreu, Ana Maria & Sposi, Michael J., 2017. "Capital Accumulation and Dynamic Gains from Trade," Working Papers 2017-5, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    2. Wyatt J. Brooks & Pau S. Pujolàs, 2014. "Nonlinear Gravity," Department of Economics Working Papers 2014-15, McMaster University.

    More about this item


    Dynamics; Capital Accumulation; International Trade; Welfare Gains from Trade;

    JEL classification:

    • E13 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - Neoclassical
    • E22 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity
    • F11 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Neoclassical Models of Trade
    • F41 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Open Economy Macroeconomics

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