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An Elementary Theory of Global Supply Chains

  • Arnaud Costinot
  • Jonathan Vogel
  • Su Wang

This paper develops an elementary theory of global supply chains. We consider a world economy with an arbitrary number of countries, one factor of production, a continuum of intermediate goods, and one final good. Production of the final good is sequential and subject to mistakes. In the unique free trade equilibrium, countries with lower probabilities of making mistakes at all stages specialize in later stages of production. Because of the sequential nature of production, absolute productivity differences are a source of comparative advantage among nations. Using this simple theoretical framework, we offer a first look at how vertical specialization shapes the interdependence of nations.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16936.

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Date of creation: Apr 2011
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Publication status: published as Arnaud Costinot & Jonathan Vogel & Su Wang, 2013. "An Elementary Theory of Global Supply Chains," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 80(1), pages 109-144.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16936
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