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

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  • Francisco Rodriguez
  • Dani Rodrik

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Francisco Rodriguez & Dani Rodrik, 1999. "Trade Policy and Economic Growth: A Skeptic's Guide to Cross-National Evidence," NBER Working Papers 7081, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7081
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David H. Romer & Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1999. "Does Trade Cause Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 379-399, June.
    2. Srinivasan. T.N., 1997. "As the Century Turns: Analytics, Empirics and Politics of Development," Papers 783, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
    3. 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.
    4. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116.
    5. 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.
    6. White, Halbert, 1980. "A Heteroskedasticity-Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator and a Direct Test for Heteroskedasticity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 817-838, May.
    7. 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.
    8. O'Rourke, Kevin Hjortshøj, 1997. "Tariffs and Growth in the Late Nineteenth Century," CEPR Discussion Papers 1700, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Pritchett, Lant, 1996. "Measuring outward orientation in LDCs: Can it be done?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 307-335, May.
    10. Dan Ben-David, 1993. "Equalizing Exchange: Trade Liberalization and Income Convergence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 653-679.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations

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