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Increasing Returns and the Theory of International Trade

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  • Paul R. Krugman

Abstract

Increasing returns are as fundamental a cause of international trade as comparative advantage, but their role has until recently been neglected because of the problem of modelling market structure. Recently substantial theoretical progress has been made using three different approaches. These are the Marshallian approach, where economies of scale are assumed external to firms; the Chamberlinian approach, where imperfect competition takes the relatively tractable form of monopolistic competition; and the Cournot approach of noncooperative quantity-setting firms. This paper surveys the basic concepts and results of each approach. It shows that some basic insights are not too sensitive to the particular model of market structure. Although much remains to be done, we have made more progress toward a general analysis of increasing returns and trade than anyone would have thought possible even a few years ago.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul R. Krugman, 1985. "Increasing Returns and the Theory of International Trade," NBER Working Papers 1752, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1752
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Michael Spence, 1976. "Product Selection, Fixed Costs, and Monopolistic Competition," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 43(2), pages 217-235.
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    3. Krugman, Paul, 1980. "Scale Economies, Product Differentiation, and the Pattern of Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(5), pages 950-959, December.
    4. Ethier, Wilfred, 1979. "Internationally decreasing costs and world trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 1-24, February.
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    6. Ethier, Wilfred J, 1982. "Decreasing Costs in International Trade and Frank Graham's Argument for Protection," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(5), pages 1243-1268, September.
    7. Krugman, Paul R., 1979. "Increasing returns, monopolistic competition, and international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 469-479, November.
    8. Feenstra, Robert C & Judd, Kenneth L, 1982. "Tariffs, Technology Transfer, and Welfare," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(6), pages 1142-1165, December.
    9. James R. Melvin, 1969. "Increasing Returns to Scale as a Determinant of Trade," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 2(3), pages 389-402, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gerling, Katja & Schmidt, Klaus-Dieter, 2000. "Zur Arbeitsteilung zwischen Regionen: Das nordöstliche Brandenburg aus der Sicht der regionalökonomischen Theorie," Kiel Working Papers 965, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    2. Michaela Dodini & Marco Fantini, 2006. "The EU Neighbourhood Policy: Implications for Economic Growth and Stability," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44, pages 507-532, September.
    3. Makowski, L. & Ostroy, J.M., 1991. "The Margin of Appropriation and an Extension of the First Theorem of Welfare Economics," Papers 388, California Davis - Institute of Governmental Affairs.
    4. Grazia Ietto-Gillies, 2012. "The Multinational Firm: Characteristics, Activities and Explanations in Historical Context," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Economics and Theory of the Firm, chapter 14 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    5. J. David Richardson, 1989. "Empirical Research on Trade Liberalization With Imperfect Competition: A Survey," NBER Working Papers 2883, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Singh, Anshul, 2013. "Do the FDI, Economic growth and Trade affect each other for India: An ARDL Approach," MPRA Paper 51447, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Konchyn, Vadym, 2006. "The Evolution of Ukrainian Economy: New Trade Theory Evidence," MPRA Paper 588, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 07 Sep 2006.
    8. G. Ietto-Gillies, 1998. "Location of Affiliates and Degree of Internationalisation: An Analysis of the World's Largest 664 TNCs," CIBS Research Papers in International Business 14-98, London South Bank University CIBS.
    9. Bitzenis, Aristidis & Tsitouras, Antonis & Vlachos, Vasileios A., 2009. "Decisive FDI obstacles as an explanatory reason for limited FDI inflows in an EMU member state: The case of Greece," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 691-704, August.
    10. Grazia Ietto-Gillies, 2014. "The Theory of the Transnational Corporation at 50+," Economic Thought, World Economics Association, vol. 3(2), pages 1-38, September.
    11. G. Ietto-Gillies, 1998. "Earnings From Foreign Direct Investment: Possible Effects on Domestic Economies and Patterns in EU Countries," CIBS Research Papers in International Business 9-98, London South Bank University CIBS.
    12. J. Mohan Rao, 1998. "Development in the Time of Globalization," Working Papers wp1, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
    13. Carlos Pombo, 2001. "Intra-industry Trade and Innovation: An empirical study of the Colombian manufacturing industry," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(1), pages 77-106.

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