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Fragmentation in Simple Trade Models

  • Deardorff, A.V.

This paper examines the effects of "fragmentation," defined as the splitting of a production process into two or more steps that can be undertaken in different locations but that lead to the same final product. Introducing the possibility of fragmentation into simple theoretical models of international trade, the paper finds the effects of fragmentation on national welfare, on patterns of specialization and trade, and on factor prices. Models examined include the Ricardian Model and the Heckscher-Ohlin Model, both for small open economies and for a two-country world. Results are as follows: 1. If fragmentation does not change the prices of goods, then it must increase the value of output of any country where it occurs and that of the world. 2. If fragmentation does change prices, then fragmentation can lower the welfare of a country by turning its terms of trade against it. 3. Even in a country that gains from fragmentation, it is possible (but not necessary) that some factor owners within that country will lose. 4. To the extent that factor prices are not equalized internationally in the absence of fragmentation, fragmentation may be a force toward factor price equalization.

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Paper provided by Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan in its series Working Papers with number 422.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: 1998
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mie:wpaper:422
Contact details of provider: Postal: ANN ARBOR MICHIGAN 48109
Web page: http://fordschool.umich.edu/rsie/

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  1. Helpman, Elhanan, 1984. "A Simple Theory of International Trade with Multinational Corporations," Scholarly Articles 3445092, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Courant, P.N. & Deardorff, A.V., 1989. "International Trade With Lumpy Countries," Papers 90-04, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
  3. Deardorff, Alan V., 1994. "The possibility of factor price equalization, revisited," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(1-2), pages 167-175, February.
  4. Feenstra, Robert C & Hanson, Gordon H, 1996. "Globalization, Outsourcing, and Wage Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 240-45, May.
  5. Debaere, Peter & Demiroglu, Ufuk, 2003. "On the similarity of country endowments," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 101-136, January.
  6. Arndt, Sven W., 1997. "Globalization and the open economy," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 71-79.
  7. Sven W. Arndt, 1998. "Super-Specialization And The Gains From Trade," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 16(4), pages 480-485, October.
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