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Distance and Political Boundaries: Estimating Border Effects under Inequality Constraints

  • Fernando Borraz
  • Alberto Cavallo
  • Roberto Rigobon
  • Leandro Zipitría

The "border effect" literature finds that political borders have a very large impact on relative prices, implicitly adding several thousands of miles to trade. In this paper we show that the standard empirical specification suffers from selection bias, and propose a new methodology based on quantile regressions. Using a novel data set from Uruguay, we apply our procedure to measure the segmentation introduced by city borders. City borders should matter little for trade. We find that when the standard methodology is used, two supermarkets separated by 10 kilometers across two different cities have the same price dispersion as two supermarkets separated by 30 kilometers within the same city; so the city border triples the distance. When our methodology is used, the city border effect becomes insignificant. We further test our methodology using online prices for the largest supermarket chain in the country, and show that the "online border" is equivalent to the average distance from the online warehouse to each of the offline stores.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18122.

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Date of creation: Jun 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18122
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  1. MarioJ. Crucini & Mototsugu Shintani & Takayuki Tsuruga, 2010. "The Law of One Price without the Border: The Role of Distance versus Sticky Prices," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(544), pages 462-480, 05.
  2. Volker Nitsch, 2000. "National borders and international trade: evidence from the European Union," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1091-1105, November.
  3. Peter J. Klenow & Oleksiy Kryvtsov, 2007. "State-Dependent or Time-Dependent Pricing: Does It Matter for Recent U.S. Inflation?," Discussion Papers 07-007, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  4. Russell Hillberry & David Hummels, 2002. "Intra-national Home Bias: Some Explanations," NBER Working Papers 9022, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. John F. Helliwell & Geneviève Verdier, 2001. "Measuring internal trade distances: a new method applied to estimate provincial border effects in Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 34(4), pages 1024-1041, November.
  6. Yuriy Gorodnichenko & Linda L. Tesar, 2009. "Border Effect or Country Effect? Seattle May Not Be So Far from Vancouver After All," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 219-41, January.
  7. Donald W.K. Andrews & Gustavo Soares, 2007. "Inference for Parameters Defined by Moment Inequalities Using Generalized Moment Selection," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1631, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  8. Maria Ponomareva & Elie Tamer, 2011. "Misspecification in moment inequality models: back to moment equalities?," Econometrics Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 14(2), pages 186-203, 07.
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