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Trade Policy and Economic Growth: A Skeptic's Guide to Cross-National Evidence

  • Francisco Rodriguez
  • Dani Rodrik

Do countries with lower policy-induced barriers to international trade grow faster, once other relevant country characteristics are controlled for? There exists a large empirical literature providing an affirmative answer to this question. We argue that methodological problems with the empirical strategies employed in this literature leave the results open to diverse interpretations. In many cases, the indicators of openness' used by researchers are poor measures of trade barriers or are highly correlated with other sources of bad economic performance. In other cases, the methods used to ascertain the link between trade policy and growth have serious shortcomings. Papers that we review include Dollar (1992), Ben-David (1993), Sachs and Warner (1995), and Edwards (1998). We find little evidence that open trade policies--in the sense of lower tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade--are significantly associated with economic growth.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7081.

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Date of creation: Apr 1999
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Publication status: published as Bernanke, Ben and Kenneth S. Rogoff (eds.) NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2000, Volume 15. Cambrodge, MA: The MIT Press, 2001.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7081
Note: ITI
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  1. Edward E. Leamer, 1987. "Measures of Openness," UCLA Economics Working Papers 447, UCLA Department of Economics.
    • Edward E. Leamer, 1988. "Measures of Openness," NBER Chapters, in: Trade Policy Issues and Empirical Analysis, pages 145-204 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output per Worker than Others?," NBER Working Papers 6564, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Srinivasan. T.N., 1997. "As the Century Turns: Analytics, Empirics and Politics of Development," Papers 783, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  4. T. N. Srinivasan, 1997. "As the Century Turns: Analytics, Empirics and Politics of Development," Working Papers 783, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  5. Ben-David, Dan, 1993. "Equalizing Exchange: Trade Liberalization and Income Convergence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(3), pages 653-79, August.
  6. David H. Romer & Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1999. "Does Trade Cause Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 379-399, June.
  7. Pritchett, Lant, 1996. "Measuring outward orientation in LDCs: Can it be done?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 307-335, May.
  8. White, Halbert, 1980. "A Heteroskedasticity-Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator and a Direct Test for Heteroskedasticity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 817-38, May.
  9. O'Rourke, Kevin Hjortshøj, 1997. "Tariffs and Growth in the Late Nineteenth Century," CEPR Discussion Papers 1700, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Bee Yan Aw & Sukkyun Chung & Mark J. Roberts, 1998. "Productivity and the Decision to Export: Micro Evidence from Taiwan and South Korea," NBER Working Papers 6558, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Holger C. Wolf, 1993. "Trade orientation measurement and consequences," Estudios de Economia, University of Chile, Department of Economics, vol. 20(esp Year ), pages 49-86, june.
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