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Comparative Advantage and the Cross-Section of Business Cycles

  • Jaume Ventura

Business cycles are both less volatile and more synchronized with the world cycle in rich countries than in poor ones. We develop two alternative explanations based on the idea that comparative advantage causes rich countries to specialize in industries that use new technologies operated by skilled workers, while poor countries specialize in industries that use traditional technologies operated by unskilled workers. Since new technologies are difficult to imitate, the industries of rich countries enjoy more market power and face more inelastic product demands than those of poor countries. Since skilled workers are less likely to exit employment as a result of changes in economic conditions, industries in rich countries face more inelastic labour supplies than those of poor countries. We show that each of these asymmetries in industry characteristics can generate cross-country differences in business cycles that resemble those we observe in the data.

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Paper provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 98-9.

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Date of creation: Jul 1998
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Handle: RePEc:mit:worpap:98-9
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  1. Daron Acemoglu & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 1994. "Was Prometheus unbound by chance? Risk, diversification and growth," Economics Working Papers 98, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  2. Marianne Baxter, 1995. "International Trade and Business Cycles," NBER Working Papers 5025, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1982. "Time to Build and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1345-70, November.
  4. Kraay, Aart & Ventura, Jaume, 1995. "Trade and fluctuations," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1560, The World Bank.
  5. Maurice Obstfeld and Kenneth Rogoff., 1995. "Exchange Rate Dynamics Redux," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C95-048, University of California at Berkeley.
  6. Obstfeld, M., 1998. "Risk and Exchange Rate," Papers 193, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
  7. David K. Backus & Patrick J. Kehoe & Finn E. Kydland, 1993. "International Business Cycles: Theory and Evidence," Working Papers 93-21, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
  8. David H. Romer & Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1999. "Does Trade Cause Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 379-399, June.
  9. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles L. Evans, 1996. "Sticky price and limited participation models of money: a comparison," Staff Report 227, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  10. Giancarlo Corsetti & Paolo Pesenti, 2001. "Welfare and Macroeconomic Interdependence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 421-445.
  11. Chinhui Juhn & Kevin M. Murphy & Robert H. Topel, 1991. "Why Has the Natural Rate of Unemployment Increased over Time?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 22(2), pages 75-142.
  12. Baxter, Marianne, 1995. "International trade and business cycles," Handbook of International Economics, in: G. M. Grossman & K. Rogoff (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 35, pages 1801-1864 Elsevier.
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