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Increasing Returns and All That: A View From Trade

  • Werner Antweiler
  • Daniel Trefler

Do scale economies contribute to our understanding of international trade? Do international trade flows encode information about the extent of scale economies? To answer these questions we examine the large class of general equilibrium theories that imply Helpman-Krugman variants of the Vanek factor content prediction. Using an ambitious database on output, trade flows, and factor endowments, we find that scale economies significantly increase our understanding of the sources of comparative advantage. Further, the Helpman-Krugman framework provides a remarkable lens for viewing the general equilibrium scale elasticities encoded in trade flows. In particular, we find that a third of all goods-producing industries are characterized by scale. (The modal range of scale elasticities for this group is 1.10-1.20 and the economy-wide scale elasticity is 1.05.) Implications are drawn for the trade-and-wages debate (skill-biased scale effects) and endogenous growth.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7941.

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Date of creation: Oct 2000
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Publication status: published as Werner Antweiler & Daniel Trefler, 2002. "Increasing Returns and All That: A View from Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 93-119, March.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7941
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  18. Trefler, Daniel, 1993. "International Factor Price Differences: Leontief Was Right!," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(6), pages 961-87, December.
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  24. Werner Antweiler & Daniel Trefler, 2002. "Increasing Returns and All That: A View from Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 93-119, March.
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