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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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  • Jaume Ventura, 1998. "Comparative Advantage and the Cross-Section of Business Cycles," Working papers 98-9, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:mit:worpap:98-9

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Acemoglu, Daron & Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 1997. "Was Prometheus Unbound by Chance? Risk, Diversification, and Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(4), pages 709-751, August.
    2. 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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    5. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1982. "Time to Build and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1345-1370, November.
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    7. Obstfeld, M., 1998. "Risk and Exchange Rate," Papers 193, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
    8. David Backus & Patrick J. Kehoe & Finn E. Kydland, 1993. "International Business Cycles: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 4493, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Obstfeld, Maurice & Rogoff, Kenneth, 1995. "Exchange Rate Dynamics Redux," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(3), pages 624-660, June.
    10. Kraay, Aart & Ventura, Jaume, 1995. "Trade and fluctuations," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1560, The World Bank.
    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.
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    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles


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