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Idea Flows, Economic Growth, and Trade

  • Fernando E. Alvarez
  • Francisco J. Buera
  • Robert E. Lucas, Jr.

We provide a theoretical description of a process that is capable of generating growth and income convergence among economies, and where freer trade has persistent, positive effects on productivity, beyond the standard efficiency gains due to reallocation effects. We add to a standard Ricardian model a theory of endogenous growth where the engine of growth is the flow of ideas. Ideas are assumed to diffuse by random meetings where people get new ideas by learning from the people they do business with or compete with. Trade then has a selection effect of putting domestic producers in contact with the most efficient foreign and domestic producers. We analyze the way that trade in goods, and impediments to it, affect this diffusion. We find that exclusion of a country from trade reduces productivity growth, with large long-term effects. Smaller trade costs have moderate effects on productivity.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19667.

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Date of creation: Nov 2013
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19667
Note: EFG ITI
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  1. Christian Broda & David Weinstein, 2004. "Globalization and the gains from variety," Staff Reports 180, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  2. Chang-Tai Hsieh & Peter J. Klenow, 2007. "Misallocation and Manufacturing TFP in China and India," Discussion Papers 07-006, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  3. Fernando Alvarez & Robert E. Lucas, 2005. "General Equilibrium Analysis of the Eaton-Kortum Model of International Trade," NBER Working Papers 11764, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Andrew B. Bernard & Jonathan Eaton & J. Bradford Jensen & Samuel Kortum, 2003. "Plants and Productivity in International Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1268-1290, September.
  5. Jesse Perla & Christopher Tonetti, 2012. "Equilibrium Imitation and Growth," Working Papers 12-03, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
  6. Igal Hendel & Aviv Nevo, 2006. "Measuring the Implications of Sales and Consumer Inventory Behavior," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(6), pages 1637-1673, November.
  7. Lucia Foster & John Haltiwanger & Chad Syverson, 2005. "Reallocation, Firm Turnover, and Efficiency: Selection on Productivity or Profitability?," NBER Working Papers 11555, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Jovanovic, Boyan & MacDonald, Glenn M., 1988. "Competitive Diffusion," Working Papers 88-29, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  9. Acharya, Ram C. & Keller, Wolfgang, 2007. "Technology Transfer through Imports," CEPR Discussion Papers 6296, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2002. "Technology, Geography, and Trade," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(5), pages 1741-1779, September.
  11. Mas-Colell, Andreu & Whinston, Michael D. & Green, Jerry R., 1995. "Microeconomic Theory," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195102680.
  12. Coe, David T & Helpman, Elhanan, 1993. "International R&D Spillovers," CEPR Discussion Papers 840, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Grossman, Gene M. & Helpman, Elhanan, 1991. "Trade, knowledge spillovers, and growth," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(2-3), pages 517-526, April.
  14. Benjamin Moll & Robert E. Lucas, 2011. "Knowledge Growth and the Allocation of Time," 2011 Meeting Papers 1030, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  15. Parente, Stephen L & Prescott, Edward C, 1994. "Barriers to Technology Adoption and Development," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(2), pages 298-321, April.
  16. Samuel S. Kortum, 1997. "Research, Patenting, and Technological Change," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(6), pages 1389-1420, November.
  17. Erzo G. J. Luttmer, 2007. "Selection, Growth, and the Size Distribution of Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1103-1144, 08.
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