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Borders, Ethnicity and Trade

Listed author(s):
  • Jenny C. Aker
  • Michael W. Klein
  • Stephen A. O'Connell
  • Muzhe Yang

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.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w15960.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15960.

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Date of creation: May 2010
Publication status: published as Aker, Jenny C. & Klein, Michael W. & O'Connell, Stephen A. & Yang, Muzhe, 2014. "Borders, ethnicity and trade," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 1-16.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15960
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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.
  2. Alberto Alesina & Eliana La Ferrara, 2000. "Participation in Heterogeneous Communities," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 847-904.
  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, December.
  10. Himbara, David, 1994. "The failed Africanization of commerce and industry in Kenya," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 469-482, March.
  11. Catherine ARAUJO BONJEAN & Johny EGG & Magali AUBERT, 2008. "Commerce du mil en Afrique de l’Ouest : les frontières abolies ?," Working Papers 200831, CERDI.
  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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