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Road Connectivity and the Border Effect: Evidence from Europe

  • Henrik Braconier
  • Mauro Pisu

Several studies have reported a large negative effect of national borders on the volume of trade. We provide new estimates of the border effect for continental Europe using road rather than great circle – or “as-crows-fly” – distance. Road distances for 48 180 European city pairs have been extracted from Bing Maps Routing Services. As our dataset also has information on travel time, we are able to consider costs related to time in addition to those depending on distance. We find that for the same great circle distance and the same city size, the road distance between two cities located in the same country is around 10% shorter than that between cities located in different ones. Travel speed is also higher between cities in the same country. We find that by using measures based on the actual road distance rather than the great circle distance, the negative effect of international borders on goods trade in a standard gravity equation is lowered by around 15%. Time-related trade costs account for an additional 10% reduction in the border effect. Overall these results point to the importance of road networks – and road transport policy in general – to enhance market integration. La connectivité routière et l'effet frontière : données concernant l'Europe Plusieurs études font état d’un effet négatif très prononcé des frontières nationales sur le volume des échanges. Nous livrons de nouvelles estimations de l’effet frontière en Europe continentale en utilisant les distances routières au lieu des distances orthodromiques – c’est-à-dire « à vol d’oiseau ». Les distances routières de 48 180 paires de villes européennes sont issues du service de calcul d’itinéraires de Bing Cartes. Étant donné que notre ensemble de données comporte aussi des informations sur les temps de trajet, nous sommes en mesure de prendre en compte les coûts liés au temps, en plus de ceux qui dépendent de la distance. Nous constatons qu’à distance orthodromique et taille d’agglomération égales, la distance routière entre deux villes d’un même pays est inférieure de 10 % environ à celle qui sépare des villes situées dans des pays différents. De même, la distance est parcourue plus rapidement lorsque les villes se trouvent dans le même pays. Nous observons qu’en utilisant des mesures établies sur la distance routière effective, plutôt que sur la distance orthodromique, l’effet négatif des frontières internationales sur les échanges de marchandises dans une équation de gravité standard diminue d’environ 15 %. Les coûts des échanges liés à la durée des trajets sont à l’origine d’une réduction supplémentaire de 10 % de l’effet frontière. Dans l’ensemble, ces résultats font ressortir l’importance des réseaux routiers – et de la politique du transport routier en général – pour renforcer l’intégration des marchés.

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Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Economics Department Working Papers with number 1073.

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Date of creation: 01 Jul 2013
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Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:1073-en
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  1. John F. Helliwell & Geneviève Verdier, 2001. "Measuring internal trade distances: a new method applied to estimate provincial border effects in Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 34(4), pages 1024-1041, November.
  2. Simeon Djankov & Caroline Freund & Cong S. Pham, 2010. "Trading on Time," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(1), pages 166-173, February.
  3. Spiros Bougheas & Panicos Demetriades & Edgar Morgenroth, 1996. "Infrastructure, Transport Costs and Trade," Keele Department of Economics Discussion Papers (1995-2001) 96/7, Department of Economics, Keele University.
  4. Chen, Natalie, 2004. "Intra-national versus international trade in the European Union: why do national borders matter?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 93-118, May.
  5. Hummels, David, 2001. "Time as a Trade Barrier," GTAP Working Papers 1152, Center for Global Trade Analysis, Department of Agricultural Economics, Purdue University.
  6. Carolyn L. Evans, 2003. "The Economic Significance of National Border Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1291-1312, September.
  7. Carolyn L. Evans, 2001. "Border effects and the availability of domestic products abroad," Staff Reports 127, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  8. Alain de Serres & Peter Hoeller & Christine de la Maisonneuve, 2001. "The Width of the Intra-European Economic Borders," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 304, OECD Publishing.
  9. Carolyn L. Evans & James Harrigan, 2005. "Distance, Time, and Specialization: Lean Retailing in General Equilibrium," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 292-313, March.
  10. Russell H. Hillberry, 2002. "Aggregation bias, compositional change, and the border effect," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 35(3), pages 517-530, August.
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