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Uncertainty, Optimal Specialization and Growth

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  • Michele Di Maio
  • Marco Valente

Abstract

We present a novel argument demonstrating that when trade is characterized by uncertainty the comparative advantages doctrine is misleading and a positive level of diversification is growth enhancing. Applying a result developed in the mathematical biological literature, we show that, in Ricardian trade model in which capital available for investment depends on previous periods returns, incomplete specialization is optimal. We also demonstrate that, in this case, the decentralized solution is characterized by an inefficiently high level of specialization with respect to the social optimal one. Finally, we present a taxation scheme that, reconciling individual incentives and social optimum, is able to induce individual agents to adopt the optimal specialization strategy, i.e. the one that maximizes the country growth rate.

Suggested Citation

  • Michele Di Maio & Marco Valente, 2006. "Uncertainty, Optimal Specialization and Growth," LEM Papers Series 2006/05, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  • Handle: RePEc:ssa:lemwps:2006/05
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ruffin, Roy J., 1974. "International trade under uncertainty," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(3), pages 243-259, August.
    2. S. Lael Brainard, 1991. "Protecting Losers: Optimal Diversification, Insurance, and Trade Policy," NBER Working Papers 3773, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Acemoglu, Daron & Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 1997. "Was Prometheus Unbound by Chance? Risk, Diversification, and Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(4), pages 709-751, August.
    4. Saint-Paul, Gilles, 1992. "Technological choice, financial markets and economic development," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 763-781, May.
    5. Hans-Werner Sinn, 1996. "Social insurance, incentives and risk taking," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 3(3), pages 259-280, July.
    6. Redding, Stephen, 1999. "Dynamic Comparative Advantage and the Welfare Effects of Trade," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(1), pages 15-39, January.
    7. Rivera-Batiz, Luis A. & Romer, Paul M., 1991. "International trade with endogenous technological change," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 971-1001, May.
    8. Brainard, William C. & Cooper, Richard N., 1968. "Uncertainty and Diversification in International Trade," Food Research Institute Studies, Stanford University, Food Research Institute, issue 03.
    9. Krugman, Paul, 1991. "Increasing Returns and Economic Geography," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(3), pages 483-499, June.
    10. Dornbusch, Rudiger & Fischer, Stanley & Samuelson, Paul A, 1977. "Comparative Advantage, Trade, and Payments in a Ricardian Model with a Continuum of Goods," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(5), pages 823-839, December.
    11. Pagano Ugo & Samuel Bowles, 2003. "Economic Integration, Cultural Standardization,and the Politics of Social Insurance," Working Papers wp64, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
    12. David M. G. Newbery & Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1984. "Pareto Inferior Trade," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(1), pages 1-12.
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    Cited by:

    1. Morsello, Carla & Delgado, Juliana Aparecida da Silva & Fonseca-Morello, Thiago & Brites, Alice Dantas, 2014. "Does trading non-timber forest products drive specialisation in products gathered for consumption? Evidence from the Brazilian Amazon," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 140-149.

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    Keywords

    Uncertainty; Specialization; Growth; Government;

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