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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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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w13214.pdf
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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
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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
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  1. 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).
  2. Marc J. Melitz & Gianmarco I. P. Ottaviano, 2008. "Market Size, Trade, and Productivity," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(1), pages 295-316.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
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  6. Rubinstein, Yona & Helpman, Elhanan & Melitz, Marc, 2008. "Estimating Trade Flows: Trading Partners and Trading Volumes," Scholarly Articles 3228230, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  7. Helble, Matthias & Okubo, Toshihiro, 2008. "Heterogeneous quality firms and trade costs," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4550, The World Bank.
  8. Miklos Koren & Roc Armenter, 2008. "A Balls-and-Bins Model of Trade," 2008 Meeting Papers 365, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  9. Andrew B. Bernard & Jonathan Eaton & J. Bradford Jensen & Samuel Kortum, 2000. "Plants and Productivity in International Trade," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 105, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
  10. FUJITA, Masahisa & THISSE, Jacques-François, . "Agglomeration and market interaction," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1607, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  11. Mark J. Melitz, 2002. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," NBER Working Papers 8881, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2002. "Technology, Geography, and Trade," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(5), pages 1741-1779, September.
  15. Choi, E. Kwan & Harrigan, James, 2003. "Handbook of International Trade," Staff General Research Papers 11375, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  16. Harrigan, James, 2010. "Airplanes and comparative advantage," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 181-194, November.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. Elhanan Helpman & Marc J. Melitz & Stephen R. Yeaple, 2004. "Export Versus FDI with Heterogeneous Firms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 300-316, March.
  22. Svetlana Demidova, 2008. "Productivity Improvements And Falling Trade Costs: Boon Or Bane?," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(4), pages 1437-1462, November.
  23. Juan Carlos Hallak & Peter K. Schott, 2008. "Estimating Cross-Country Differences in Product Quality," NBER Working Papers 13807, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. 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.
  25. Alejandro Micco & Tomás Serebrisky, 2008. "Competition Regimes and Air Transport Costs: The Effects of Open Skies Agreement," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 46738, Inter-American Development Bank.
  26. 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.
  27. Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1998. "The Regionalization of the World Economy," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number fran98-1, August.
  28. Hallak, Juan Carlos, 2006. "Product quality and the direction of trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 238-265, January.
  29. repec:rus:hseeco:122203 is not listed on IDEAS
  30. 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.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.
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