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The Trade Creation Effect of Immigrants: Evidence from the Remarkable Case of Spain

  • Giovanni Peri
  • Francisco Requena

There is abundant evidence that immigrant networks are associated with larger exports from the country where they settle to their countries of origin. The direction of causality of this association is less clearly established. Also, we do not know to what extent these increased exports are due to an increase in the number of exporting firms (i.e. the extensive margin of trade) or due to larger values exported by existing firm (i.e. the intensive margin). Using micro data on individual trade transactions from Spanish provinces between 1995 and 2008 and data on the stock of immigrants in those provinces by country of origin we can make progress on both fronts. The richness of our data allows us to control for a large set of fixed effects and to use an instrumental variable strategy to isolate the export creation effect of new immigrants. We are also able to quantify the impact of immigrants on the intensive and extensive margin of trade and how it varies between homogeneous, moderately differentiated and differentiated goods. Our findings can be interpreted, in the light of the Chaney (2008) gravity model, as consistent with the idea that immigrants reduce the fixed costs of trade. As implied by a decrease in fixed trade costs in that model we find that immigrants significantly increase exports (elasticity of 0.10), that the effect is almost entirely due to an increase in the extensive margin and that the effect is somewhat stronger for differentiated goods.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15625.

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Date of creation: Dec 2009
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Publication status: published as Giovanni Peri & Francisco Requena-Silvente, 2010. "The trade creation effect of immigrants: evidence from the remarkable case of Spain," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 43(4), pages 1433-1459, November.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15625
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  1. Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano & Giovanni Peri, 2006. "The economic value of cultural diversity: evidence from US cities," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(1), pages 9-44, January.
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  13. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2000. "Gravity with Gravitas: A Solution to the Border Puzzle," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 485, Boston College Department of Economics.
  14. David Card, 2009. "Immigration and Inequality," NBER Working Papers 14683, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Dunlevy, James A. & Hutchinson, William K., 1999. "The Impact of Immigration on American Import Trade in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 59(04), pages 1043-1062, December.
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  18. Elhanan Helpman & Marc Melitz & Yona Rubinstein, 2006. "Trading Partners and Trading Volumes," DEGIT Conference Papers c011_022, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
  19. Sourafel Girma & Zhihao Yu, 2002. "The link between immigration and trade: Evidence from the United Kingdom," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 138(1), pages 115-130, March.
  20. James A. Dunlevy, 2006. "The Influence of Corruption and Language on the Protrade Effect of Immigrants: Evidence from the American States," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(1), pages 182-186, February.
  21. José Vicente Blanes Cristóbal, 2004. "Does Immigration Help to Explain Intra-Industry Trade? Evidence for Spain," Economic Working Papers at Centro de Estudios Andaluces E2004/29, Centro de Estudios Andaluces.
  22. Mark G. Herander & Luz A. Saavedra, 2005. "Exports and the Structure of Immigrant-Based Networks: The Role of Geographic Proximity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 323-335, May.
  23. Combes, Pierre-Philippe & Lafourcade, Miren & Mayer, Thierry, 2005. "The trade-creating effects of business and social networks: evidence from France," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 1-29, May.
  24. Daniel L. Millimet & Thomas Osang, 2007. "Do state borders matter for U.S. intranational trade? The role of history and internal migration," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 40(1), pages 93-126, February.
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