IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Sector-Level Economies of Scale: Estimation Using Trade Data


  • Dave Donaldson

    (Stanford University)

  • Arnaud Costinot


  • Andres Rodriguez-Clare

    (UC Berkeley)

  • Dominick Bartelme

    (University of Michigan)


Sector-level economies of scale matter for economic development, industrial policy, and the consequences of trade liberalization. As of yet, however, the literature has not converged on a definitive answer regarding their existence and even less an estimate of their magnitude and variation across sectors. For example, most quantitative trade papers explicitly or implicitly assume that the sector-level scale elasticity is either zero or equal to the inverse of the trade elasticity. This paper develops a two-step strategy for estimating sector-level scale elasticities using bilateral trade data. First, a revealed preference approach is used to compute the productivity of each sector-country cell from observed bilateral trade flows. Second, a market access approach is used to construct demand shifters that vary across sector-country cells. The scale elasticity (a supply side parameter) is recovered from a regression of productivity on sector size using the constructed demand shifters as instrumental variables. Preliminary results suggest that economies of scale are positive but not as large as those implicitly imposed in many leading quantitative trade models.

Suggested Citation

  • Dave Donaldson & Arnaud Costinot & Andres Rodriguez-Clare & Dominick Bartelme, 2017. "Sector-Level Economies of Scale: Estimation Using Trade Data," 2017 Meeting Papers 1643, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed017:1643

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Rodrigo Adão & Costas Arkolakis & Federico Espósito, 2019. "Spatial Linkages, Global Shocks, and Local Labor Markets: Theory and Evidence," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 2163, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.

    More about this item

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:red:sed017:1643. 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: (Christian Zimmermann). General contact details of provider: .

    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.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.