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Zeros, Quality and Space: Trade Theory and Trade Evidence

  • Richard Baldwin
  • James Harrigan

Bilateral, product-level data exhibit a number of strong patterns that can be used to evaluate international trade theories, notably the spatial incidence of "export zeros" (correlated with distance and importer size), and of export unit values (positively related to distance). We show that leading theoretical trade models fail to explain at least some of these facts, and propose a variant of the Melitz model that can account for all the facts. In our model, high quality firms are the most competitive, with heterogeneous quality increasing with firms' heterogeneous cost.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13214.

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Date of creation: Jul 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Richard Baldwin & James Harrigan, 2011. "Zeros, Quality, and Space: Trade Theory and Trade Evidence," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 60-88, May.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13214
Note: ITI
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  1. Tibor Besedes & Thomas Prusa, 2006. "Ins, outs, and the duration of trade," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 39(1), pages 266-295, February.
  2. Ottaviano, Gianmarco & Melitz, Marc, 2008. "Market Size, Trade, and Productivity," Scholarly Articles 3229096, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Choi, E. Kwan & Harrigan, James, 2003. "Handbook of International Trade," Staff General Research Papers 11375, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  4. OTTAVIANO, Gianmarco & TABUCHI , Takatoshi & THISSE, Jacques-François, . "Agglomeration and trade revisited," CORE Discussion Papers RP 1553, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  5. Eaton, Jonathan & Kortum, Samuel S & Kramarz, Francis, 2009. "An Anatomy of International Trade: Evidence from French Firms," CEPR Discussion Papers 7111, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Roc Armenter & Mikl?s Koren, 2014. "A Balls-and-Bins Model of Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(7), pages 2127-51, July.
  7. Andrew B. Bernard & Jonathan Eaton & J. Bradford Jenson & Samuel Kortum, 2000. "Plants and Productivity in International Trade," NBER Working Papers 7688, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Juan Carlos Hallak & Peter K. Schott, 2008. "Estimating Cross-Country Differences in Product Quality," NBER Working Papers 13807, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Richard Baldwin, 2005. "Heterogeneous Firms and Trade: Testable and Untestable Properties of the Melitz Model," NBER Working Papers 11471, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. FUJITA, Masahisa & THISSE, Jacques-François, 2002. "Agglomeration and market interaction," CORE Discussion Papers 2002011, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  11. Alvarez, Fernando & Lucas, Robert Jr., 2007. "General equilibrium analysis of the Eaton-Kortum model of international trade," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(6), pages 1726-1768, September.
  12. Peter K. Schott, 2004. "Across-product Versus Within-product Specialization in International Trade," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(2), pages 646-677, May.
  13. Micco, Alejandro & Serebrisky, Tomas, 2006. "Competition regimes and air transport costs: The effects of open skies agreements," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 25-51, September.
  14. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2002. "Technology, Geography, and Trade," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(5), pages 1741-1779, September.
  15. Yeaple, Stephen & Helpman, Elhanan & Melitz, Marc, 2004. "Export versus FDI with Heterogeneous Firms," Scholarly Articles 3229098, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  16. Marc J. Melitz, 2003. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(6), pages 1695-1725, November.
  17. Harrigan, James, 2010. "Airplanes and comparative advantage," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 181-194, November.
  18. Matthias Helble & Toshihiro Okubo, 2008. "Heterogeneous Quality Firms and Trade Costs," Discussion Paper Series 220, Research Institute for Economics & Business Administration, Kobe University.
  19. Jon Haveman & David Hummels, 2004. "Alternative hypotheses and the volume of trade: the gravity equation and the extent of specialization," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 37(1), pages 199-218, February.
  20. Yeaple, Stephen Ross, 2005. "A simple model of firm heterogeneity, international trade, and wages," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 1-20, January.
  21. repec:rus:hseeco:122203 is not listed on IDEAS
  22. Deardorff, A.V., 1995. "Determinants of Bilateral Trade : Does Gravity Work in a Neoclassical World?," Papers 95-05, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
  23. Hallak, Juan Carlos, 2006. "Product quality and the direction of trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 238-265, January.
  24. Alan V. Deardorff, 2014. "Local comparative advantage: Trade costs and the pattern of trade," International Journal of Economic Theory, The International Society for Economic Theory, vol. 10(1), pages 9-35, 03.
  25. Robert C. Feenstra & James R. Markusen & Andrew K. Rose, 2001. "Using the gravity equation to differentiate among alternative theories of trade," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 34(2), pages 430-447, May.
  26. Robert C. Feenstra & Andrew K. Rose, 2000. "Putting Things In Order: Trade Dynamics And Product Cycles," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(3), pages 369-382, August.
  27. Hansen, Christian B., 2007. "Asymptotic properties of a robust variance matrix estimator for panel data when T is large," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 141(2), pages 597-620, December.
  28. Demidova, Svetlana, 2005. "Productivity Improvements and Falling Trade Costs: Boon or Bane?," Working Papers 2-05-1, Pennsylvania State University, Department of Economics.
  29. Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1998. "The Regionalization of the World Economy," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number fran98-1, July.
  30. Elhanan Helpman & Marc Melitz & Yona Rubinstein, 2007. "Estimating Trade Flows: Trading Partners and Trading Volumes," NBER Working Papers 12927, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  31. Besedes, Tibor & Prusa, Thomas J., 2006. "Product differentiation and duration of US import trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 339-358, December.
  32. Yo Chul Choi & David Hummels & Chong Xiang, 2006. "Explaining Import Variety and Quality: The Role of the Income Distribution," NBER Working Papers 12531, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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