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The Heckscher-Ohlin Model Between 1400 and 2000: When It Explained Factor Price Convergence, When It Did Not, and Why

  • Kevin H. O'Rourke
  • Jeffrey G. Williamson

There are two contrasting views of pre-19th century trade and globalization. First, there are the world history scholars like Andre Gunder Frank who attach globalization 'big bang' significance to the dates 1492 (Christopher Colombus stumbles on the Americas in search of spices) and 1498 (Vasco da Gama makes an end run around Africa and snatches monopoly rents away from the Arab and Venetian spice traders). Such scholars are on the side of Adam Smith who believed that these were the two most important events in recorded history. Second, there is the view that the world economy was fragmented and completely de- globalized before the 19th century. This paper offers a novel way to discriminate between these two competing views and we use it to show that there is no evidence that the Ages of Discovery and Commerce had the economic impact on the global economy that world historians assign to them, while there is plenty of evidence of a very big bang in the 19th century. The test involves a close look at the connections between factor prices, commodity prices and endowments world wide.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7411.

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Date of creation: Nov 1999
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Publication status: published as Findlay, R., L. Jonung and M. Lundahl (eds.) Bertil Ohlin: A Centennial Celebration 1899-1999. MIT Press, 2002.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7411
Note: DAE ITI
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  1. Davidson, Russell & MacKinnon, James G., 1993. "Estimation and Inference in Econometrics," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195060119.
  2. Mankiw, N Gregory & Romer, David & Weil, David N, 1992. "A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 407-37, May.
  3. O'Rourke, Kevin H & Taylor, Alan M & Williamson, Jeffrey G, 1996. "Factor Price Convergence in the Late Nineteenth Century," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 37(3), pages 499-530, August.
  4. Maurice Obstfeld & Alan M. Taylor, 1997. "The Great Depression as a Watershed: International Capital Mobility over the Long Run," NBER Working Papers 5960, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Obstfeld, Maurice, 1994. "International Capital Mobility in the 1990s," CEPR Discussion Papers 902, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. O'Rourke Kevin, 1994. "The Repeal of the Corn Laws and Irish Emigration," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 120-138, January.
  7. Irwin, Douglas A, 1991. "Mercantilism as Strategic Trade Policy: The Anglo-Dutch Rivalry for the East India Trade," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(6), pages 1296-314, December.
  8. Johansen, Soren, 1991. "Estimation and Hypothesis Testing of Cointegration Vectors in Gaussian Vector Autoregressive Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(6), pages 1551-80, November.
  9. Taylor, Alan M., 1999. "Sources of convergence in the late nineteenth century," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(9), pages 1621-1645, October.
  10. Taylor, Alan M. & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 1997. "Convergence in the age of mass migration," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(01), pages 27-63, April.
  11. Williamson, Jeffrey G., 1990. "The impact of the Corn Laws just prior to repeal," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 123-156, April.
  12. Matthew J. Slaughter, 1995. "The Antebellum Transportation Revolution and Factor-Price Convergence," NBER Working Papers 5303, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Wood, Adrian, 1995. "North-South Trade, Employment and Inequality: Changing Fortunes in a Skill-Driven World," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198290155.
  14. 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.
  15. Johansen, Soren, 1995. "Likelihood-Based Inference in Cointegrated Vector Autoregressive Models," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198774501.
  16. Fogel, Robert William, 1967. "The Specification Problem in Economic History," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 27(03), pages 283-308, September.
  17. Temin, Peter, 1966. "Labor Scarcity and the Problem of American Industrial Efficiency in the 1850's," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 26(03), pages 277-298, September.
  18. Huber, J Richard, 1971. "Effect on Prices of Japan's Entry into World Commerce after 1858," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 79(3), pages 614-28, May-June.
  19. O'Rourke, Kevin & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 1994. "Late Nineteenth-Century Anglo-American Factor-Price Convergence: Were Heckscher and Ohlin Right?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 54(04), pages 892-916, December.
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  1. ヘクシャー=オリーン・モデル in Wikipedia Japanese ne '')
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