IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

The Spatial Effects of Trade Openness: A Survey

  • Marius Brülhart

This paper surveys the literature on the implications of trade liberalisation for intra-national economic geographies. Three results stand out. First, neither urban systems models nor new economic geography models imply a robust prediction on the impact of trade openness on spatial concentration. Whether trade promotes concentration or dispersion depends on subtle modelling choices among which it is impossible to adjudicate a priori. Second, empirical evidence mirrors the theoretical indeterminacy: a majority of cross-country studies find no significant effect of openness on urban concentration or regional inequality. Third, the available models predict that, other things equal, regions with inherently less costly access to foreign markets, such as border or port regions, stand to reap the largest gains from trade liberalisation. This prediction is confirmed by the available evidence. Whether trade liberalisation raises or lowers regional inequality therefore depends on each country’s specific geography.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by University of Nottingham, GEP in its series Discussion Papers with number 10/10.

in new window

Date of creation:
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:not:notgep:10/10
Contact details of provider: Postal: School of Economics University of Nottingham University Park Nottingham NG7 2RD
Phone: (44) 0115 951 5620
Fax: (0115) 951 4159
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Monfort, Philippe & Nicolini, Rosella, 2000. "Regional Convergence and International Integration," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 286-306, September.
  2. Brülhart, Marius & Carrère, Céline & Trionfetti, Federico, 2011. "How Wages and Employment Adjust to Trade Liberalization: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Austria," CEPR Discussion Papers 8430, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Marius Brülhart & Rolf Traeger, 2003. "An Account of Geographic Concentration Patterns in Europe," ERSA conference papers ersa03p473, European Regional Science Association.
  4. Stephen Redding & Daniel M. Sturm, 2005. "The costs of remoteness: evidence from German division and reunification," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 51613, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  5. Chiquiar, Daniel, 2005. "Why Mexico's regional income convergence broke down," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 257-275, June.
  6. Gianmarco Ottaviano & Takatoshi Tabuchi & Jacques-Francois Tissse, 1999. "Agglomeration and Trade Revisited," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-65, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
  7. Kristian Behrens & Carl Gaigné & Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano & Jacques-François Thisse, 2007. "Countries, regions and trade: On the welfare impacts of economic integration," Post-Print halshs-00754213, HAL.
  8. Takahashi, Takaaki, 2003. "International trade and inefficiency in the location of production," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 134-152, June.
  9. Moomaw, Ronald L. & Alwosabi, Mohammed A., 2003. "An empirical analysis of competing explanations of urban primacy: Evidence from Asia and the Americas," ZEI Working Papers B 19-2003, ZEI - Center for European Integration Studies, University of Bonn.
  10. Daniel Chiquiar, 2004. "Globalization, Regional Wage Differentials and the Stolper-Samuelson Theorem: Evidence from México," Working Papers 2004-06, Banco de México.
  11. Sanguinetti, Pablo & Volpe Martincus, Christian, 2009. "Tariffs and manufacturing location in Argentina," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 155-167, March.
  12. Rauch, James E, 1991. "Comparative Advantage, Geographic Advantage and the Volume of Trade," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(408), pages 1230-44, September.
  13. Marius Brülhart & Pamina Koenig, 2005. "New Economic Geography meets Comecon: Regional Wages and Industry Location in Central Europe," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) 05.01, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP.
  14. Moomaw, Ronald L. & Shatter, Ali M., 1996. "Urbanization and Economic Development: A Bias toward Large Cities?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 13-37, July.
  15. Olga Alonso-Villar, 2001. "Large Metropolises in the Third World: An Explanation," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 38(8), pages 1359-1371, July.
  16. Arne Melchior, 2009. "East-West Integration and the Economic Geography of Europe," CASE Network Studies and Analyses 0379, CASE-Center for Social and Economic Research.
  17. Marius Brülhart, 2001. "Evolving geographical concentration of European manufacturing industries," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 137(2), pages 215-243, June.
  18. Ernesto M. Pernia & Pilipinas F. Quising, 2003. "Trade openness and regional development in a developing country," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer, vol. 37(3), pages 391-406, 08.
  19. Hanson, Gordon H, 1997. "Increasing Returns, Trade and the Regional Structure of Wages," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(440), pages 113-33, January.
  20. Raul Livas Elizondo & Paul Krugman, 1992. "Trade Policy and the Third World Metropolis," NBER Working Papers 4238, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Henderson, J Vernon & Kuncoro, Ari, 1996. "Industrial Centralization in Indonesia," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 10(3), pages 513-40, September.
  22. Marius Brülhart & Matthieu Crozet & Pamina Koenig, 2004. "Enlargement and the EU Periphery: The Impact of Changing Market Potential," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00096285, HAL.
  23. Gordon H. Hanson, 1994. "Regional Adjustment to Trade Liberalization," NBER Working Papers 4713, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Christian Volpe Martincus, 2010. "Spatial Effects Of Trade Policy: Evidence From Brazil," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(2), pages 541-569.
  25. Bertinelli, Luisito & Black, Duncan, 2004. "Urbanization and growth," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 80-96, July.
  26. J. Vernon Henderson, 2000. "The Effects of Urban Concentration on Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 7503, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. Krugman, Paul, 1991. "Increasing Returns and Economic Geography," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(3), pages 483-99, June.
  28. Henderson, J. Vernon, 1982. "Systems of cities in closed and open economies," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 325-350, August.
  29. Duranton, Gilles, 2008. "From Cities to Productivity and Growth in Developing Countries," CEPR Discussion Papers 6634, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  30. Rodriguez-Pose, Andres & Gill, Nicholas, 2006. "How does trade affect regional disparities?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 34(7), pages 1201-1222, July.
  31. J.V. Henderson, 1972. "The Sizes and Types of Cities," Working Papers 75, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  32. Ravi Kanbur & Xiaobo Zhang, 2004. "Fifty Years of Regional Inequality in China: A Journey Through Central Planning, Reform and Openness," Working Papers 158, Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore.
  33. Brülhart, Marius & Sbergami, Federica, 2009. "Agglomeration and growth: Cross-country evidence," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 48-63, January.
  34. Martin, Philippe & Rogers, Carol Ann, 1995. "Industrial location and public infrastructure," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(3-4), pages 335-351, November.
  35. Benjamin Faber, 2007. "Towards the Spatial Patterns of Sectoral Adjustments to Trade Liberalisation: The Case of NAFTA in Mexico," Growth and Change, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(4), pages 567-594.
  36. Villar, Olga Alonso, 1999. "Spatial distribution of production and international trade: a note," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 371-380, May.
  37. Pfluger, Michael, 2004. "A simple, analytically solvable, Chamberlinian agglomeration model," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(5), pages 565-573, September.
  38. Behrens, Kristian & Gaigne, Carl & Ottaviano, Gianmarco I.P. & Thisse, Jacques-Francois, 2006. "How density economies in international transportation link the internal geography of trading partners," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 248-263, September.
  39. Crozet, Matthieu & Koenig Soubeyran, Pamina, 2004. "EU enlargement and the internal geography of countries," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 265-279, June.
  40. Rauch, James E., 1989. "Increasing returns to scale and the pattern of trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(3-4), pages 359-369, May.
  41. Haaparanta, Pertti, 1998. "Regional concentration, trade, and welfare," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 445-463, July.
  42. Rodriguez-Pose, Andres & Sanchez-Reaza, Javier, 2003. "Economic Polarization Through Trade: Trade Liberalization and Regional Growth in Mexico," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  43. Peter Egger & Peter Huber & Michael Pfaffermayr, 2005. "A note on export openness and regional wage disparity in Central and Eastern Europe," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer, vol. 39(1), pages 63-71, 03.
  44. Gordon H. Hanson, 1996. "U.S.-Mexico Integration and Regional Economies: Evidence from Border- City Pairs," NBER Working Papers 5425, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  45. Anthony J. Venables, 2005. "Spatial disparities in developing countries: cities, regions, and international trade," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(1), pages 3-21, January.
  46. J. Vernon Henderson, 1996. "Ways to Think about Urban Concentration: Neoclassical Urban Systems versus the New Economic Geography," International Regional Science Review, , vol. 19(1-2), pages 31-36, April.
  47. Paluzie i Hernandez, Elisenda, 1999. "Trade policy and regional inequalities," ERSA conference papers ersa99pa231, European Regional Science Association.
  48. Alberto F. Ades & Edward L. Glaeser, 1995. "Trade and Circuses: Explaining Urban Giants," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(1), pages 195-227.
  49. Nitsch, Volker, 2006. "Trade Openness and Urban Concentration: New Evidence," Journal of Economic Integration, Center for Economic Integration, Sejong University, vol. 21, pages 340-362.
  50. Marcela González Rivas, 2007. "The effects of trade openness on regional inequality in Mexico," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 545-561, September.
  51. Kashif S. Mansori, 2003. "The Geographic Effects of Trade Liberalization with Increasing Returns in Transportation," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(2), pages 249-268.
  52. Henderson, J. Vernon, 1987. "General equilibrium modeling of systems of cities," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, in: E. S. Mills (ed.), Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 23, pages 927-956 Elsevier.
  53. Rodney Ramcharan, 2009. "Why an economic core: domestic transport costs," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(4), pages 559-581, July.
  54. Monfort, Philippe & van Ypersele, Tanguy, 2003. "Integration, Regional Agglomeration and International Trade," CEPR Discussion Papers 3752, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:not:notgep:10/10. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Hilary Hughes)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.