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Openness, Productivity and Growth: What Do We Really Know?

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  • Sebastian Edwards

Abstract

For over a century social analysts have debated the connection between trade policy and economic performance. This controversy continues today, even as the world is experiencing an unprecedented period of trade liberalization, and in spite of numerous empirical studies that claim to have found a positive effect of openness on growth. Two issues have been at the core of these controversies: first, until recently theoretical models had been unable to link trade policy to faster equilibrium growth. And second, the empirical literature on the subject has been affected by serious data problems. In this paper I use a new comparative data set for 93 countries to analyze the robustness of the relationship between openness and TFP growth. I use nine alternative indexes of trade policy to investigate whether the evidence supports the view that, with other things given, TFP growth is faster in more open economies. The regressions reported here are robust to the use of openness indicator, estimation technique, time period and functional form, and suggest that more open countries have indeed experienced faster productivity growth. Although the use of instrumental variables goes a long way towards dealing with endogeneity, issues related to causality are still somewhat open, and will require time series analyses to be adequately addressed.

Suggested Citation

  • Sebastian Edwards, 1997. "Openness, Productivity and Growth: What Do We Really Know?," NBER Working Papers 5978, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5978
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Romer, Paul M, 1986. "Increasing Returns and Long-run Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(5), pages 1002-1037, October.
    2. Robert J. Barro, 2013. "Inflation and Economic Growth," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 14(1), pages 121-144, May.
    3. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, "undated". "The Productivity of Nations," Working Papers 96012, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
    4. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 1996. "Foundations of International Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262150476, March.
    5. Rudiger Dornbusch & Sebastian Edwards, 1995. "Reform, Recovery, and Growth: Latin America and the Middle East," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number dorn95-1, July.
    6. Edwards, Sebastian, 1993. "Openness, Trade Liberalization, and Growth in Developing Countries," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(3), pages 1358-1393, September.
    7. Fischer, Stanley, 1993. "The role of macroeconomic factors in growth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 485-512, December.
    8. Edwards, Sebastian, 1992. "Trade orientation, distortions and growth in developing countries," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 31-57, July.
    9. Barro, Robert J. & Lee, Jong-Wha, 1994. "Sources of economic growth," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 1-46, June.
    10. Alwyn Young, 1995. "The Tyranny of Numbers: Confronting the Statistical Realities of the East Asian Growth Experience," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 641-680.
    11. Rudiger Dornbusch & Sebastian Edwards, 1995. "Introduction to "Reform, Recovery, and Growth: Latin America and the Middle East"," NBER Chapters,in: Reform, Recovery, and Growth: Latin America and the Middle East, pages 1-10 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Robert C. Feenstra & Robert E. Lipsey & Harry P. Bowen, 1997. "World Trade Flows, 1970-1992, with Production and Tariff Data," NBER Working Papers 5910, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew Warner, 1995. "Economic Reform and the Process of Global Integration," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 26(1, 25th A), pages 1-118.
    14. Harberger, Arnold C., 1996. "Reflections on economic growth in Asia and the Pacific," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 365-392.
    15. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F43 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Economic Growth of Open Economies

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