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The Evolution of Comparative Advantage: Measurement and Welfare Implications

Author

Listed:
  • Andrei A. Levchenko

    (University of Michigan)

  • Jing Zhang

    (University of Michigan)

Abstract

Using an industry-level dataset of production and trade spanning 75 countries and 5 decades, and a fully speciÞed multi-sector Ricardian model, we estimate productivities at sector level and examine how they evolve over time in both developed and developing countries. We find that in both country groups, comparative advantage has become weaker: productivity grew systematically faster in sectors that were initially at the greater comparative disadvantage. The global welfare implications of this phenomenon are significant. Relative to the counterfactual scenario in which an individual countryÕs comparative advantage remained the same as in the 1960s, and technology in all sectors grew at the same country-specific average rate, welfare today is 1.9% lower at the median. The welfare impact varies greatly across countries, ranging from -0.5% to 6% among OECD countries, and from -9% to 27% among non-OECD countries. Remarkably, for the OECD countries, nearly all of the welfare impact is driven by changes in technology in OECD countries, and for the non-OECD countries, nearly all of the welfare impact is driven by changes in technology in non-OECD countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrei A. Levchenko & Jing Zhang, 2010. "The Evolution of Comparative Advantage: Measurement and Welfare Implications," Working Papers 610, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
  • Handle: RePEc:mie:wpaper:610
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    File URL: http://www.fordschool.umich.edu/rsie/workingpapers/Papers601-625/r610.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Finicelli, Andrea & Pagano, Patrizio & Sbracia, Massimo, 2013. "Ricardian selection," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(1), pages 96-109.
    2. Brezis, Elise S & Krugman, Paul R & Tsiddon, Daniel, 1993. "Leapfrogging in International Competition: A Theory of Cycles in National Technological Leadership," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1211-1219, December.
    3. Lorenzo Caliendo & Fernando Parro, 2015. "Estimates of the Trade and Welfare Effects of NAFTA," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 82(1), pages 1-44.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ozlem Yaylaci, 2012. "Evolution of Trade Costs," EcoMod2012 4267, EcoMod.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    evolution of comparative advantage; welfare; Ricardian models of trade;

    JEL classification:

    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • F43 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Economic Growth of Open Economies

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