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Borders, Ethnicity and Trade

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  • Jenny C. Aker
  • Michael W. Klein
  • Stephen A. O'Connell
  • Muzhe Yang

Abstract

Do national borders and ethnicity contribute to market segmentation between and within countries? This paper uses unique and high-frequency data on narrowly-defined goods to gauge the extent to which a national border impedes trade between developing countries (Niger and Nigeria). Using a regression discontinuity approach, we find a significant price change at the national border, but one that is lower in magnitude than that found for industrialized countries. Yet unlike that literature, and in line with important characteristics of African economies, we investigate the role of ethnicity in mitigating and exacerbating the border effect. We find that a common ethnicity is linked to lower price dispersion across countries, yet ethnic diversity creates an internal border within Niger. The primary mechanism behind the internal border effect appears to be related to the role of ethnicity in facilitating access to credit in rural markets.

Suggested Citation

  • Jenny C. Aker & Michael W. Klein & Stephen A. O'Connell & Muzhe Yang, 2010. "Borders, Ethnicity and Trade," NBER Working Papers 15960, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15960
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Engel, Charles & Rogers, John H, 1996. "How Wide Is the Border?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(5), pages 1112-1125, December.
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    3. Gita Gopinath & Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Chang-Tai Hsieh & Nicholas Li, 2011. "International Prices, Costs, and Markup Differences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(6), pages 2450-2486, October.
    4. Gopinath, Gita & Gourinchas, Pierre-Olivier & Hsieh, Chang-Tai & Li, Nicholas, 2009. "Estimating the Border Effect: Some New Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 7281, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Janet Ceglowski, 2003. "The law of one price: intranational evidence for Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 36(2), pages 373-400, May.
    6. John Yinger, 1998. "Evidence on Discrimination in Consumer Markets," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 23-40, Spring.
    7. Stelios Michalopoulos, 2012. "The Origins of Ethnolinguistic Diversity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(4), pages 1508-1539, June.
    8. William Easterly & Ross Levine, 1997. "Africa's Growth Tragedy: Policies and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1203-1250.
    9. Becker, Gary S., 1971. "The Economics of Discrimination," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 2, number 9780226041162.
    10. Himbara, David, 1994. "The failed Africanization of commerce and industry in Kenya," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 469-482, March.
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    12. Parsley, David C. & Wei, Shang-Jin, 2001. "Explaining the border effect: the role of exchange rate variability, shipping costs, and geography," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 87-105, October.
    13. Fafchamps, Marcel & Gubert, Flore, 2007. "The formation of risk sharing networks," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 326-350, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Takeshima, Hiroyuki & Liverpool-Tasie, Lenis Saweda O., 2015. "Fertilizer subsidies, political influence and local food prices in sub-Saharan Africa: Evidence from Nigeria," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 11-24.
    2. Neil Balchin & Lawrence Edwards & Asha Sundaram, 2015. "A Disaggregated Analysis of Product Price Integration in the Southern African Development Community," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 24(3), pages 390-415.
    3. Bruno Versailles, 2012. "Market Integration and Border Effects in Eastern Africa," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2012-01, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    4. Robinson, Amanda Lea, 2016. "Internal Borders: Ethnic-Based Market Segmentation in Malawi," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 371-384.
    5. WALTHER Olivier, 2012. "Regional trade and economic networks in West Africa," LISER Working Paper Series 2012-07, LISER.
    6. Roux, Catherine & Santos-Pinto, Luís & Thöni, Christian, 2016. "Home bias in multimarket Cournot games," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 361-371.
    7. Bruno Versailles, 2012. "Market Intergration and Border Effects in Eastern Africa," CSAE Working Paper Series 2012-01, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    8. repec:taf:oaefxx:v:3:y:2015:i:1:p:1029250 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • Q1 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture

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