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Trade Liberalization, Growth, and Productivity

  • Timothy J. Kehoe

    (University of Minnesota)

  • Mark J. Gibson

    (Washington State University)

  • Kim J. Ruhl

    (Stern School, New York University)

  • Claustre Bajna

    (Ryerson University)

We investigate the theoretical relationship between trade policy and growth. We use simple versions of some of the most common international trade models to investigate a number of specific mechanisms by which trade liberalization is thought to enhance growth or productivity: improvements in the terms of trade, increases in product variety, reallocation toward more productive firms, and an increased incentive to accumulate capital. In each model, trade liberalization improves social welfare. This is to be expected, but our results on real GDP may come as a surprise. In the static models, there is no general connection between trade liberalization and increases in real GDP per capita â the relationship may even be negative. In a dynamic model with capital accumulation, some countries will have slower rates of growth under free trade than under autarky. Opening to trade improves welfare, but does not necessarily increase real GDP per capita or speed up growth. If openness does in fact lead to large increases in real GDP, these increases do not come from the standard mechanisms of international trade.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2011 Meeting Papers with number 794.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed011:794
Contact details of provider: Postal: Society for Economic Dynamics Christian Zimmermann Economic Research Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis PO Box 442 St. Louis MO 63166-0442 USA
Fax: 1-314-444-8731
Web page: http://www.EconomicDynamics.org/society.htm
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  1. Claustre Bajona & Timothy J. Kehoe, 2006. "Demographics in dynamic Heckscher-Ohlin models: overlapping generations versus infinitely lived consumers," Staff Report 377, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  2. Claustre Bajona & Timothy Kehoe, 2010. "Trade, Growth, and Convergence in a Dynamic Heckscher-Ohlin Model," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 13(3), pages 487-513, July.
  3. Joshua J. Lewer & Hendrik Van den Berg, 2003. "How Large Is International Trade's Effect on Economic Growth?," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17(3), pages 363-396, 07.
  4. Dani Rodrik & Arvind Subramanian & Francesco Trebbi, 2002. "Institutions Rule: The Primacy of Institutions over Geography and Integration in Economic Development," NBER Working Papers 9305, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Yanikkaya, Halit, 2003. "Trade openness and economic growth: a cross-country empirical investigation," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 57-89, October.
  6. Timothy J. Kehoe & Kim J. Ruhl, 2007. "Are Shocks to the Terms of Trade Shocks to Productivity?," NBER Working Papers 13111, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Timothy J. Kehoe & Kim Ruhl, 2008. "Data Appendix to "Are Shocks to the Terms of Trade Shocks to Productivity?"," Technical Appendices 07-40, Review of Economic Dynamics.
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