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

Uncertainty, Optimal Specialization and Growth

  • Michele Di Maio
  • Marco Valente

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.

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 Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy in its series LEM Papers Series with number 2006/05.

in new window

Date of creation: 14 Feb 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ssa:lemwps:2006/05
Contact details of provider: Postal: Piazza dei Martiri della Liberta, 33, 56127 Pisa
Phone: +39-50-883343
Fax: +39-50-883344
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. Saint-Paul, Gilles, 1992. "Technological choice, financial markets and economic development," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 763-781, May.
  2. 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.
  3. Redding, S., 1997. "Dynamic Comparative Advantage and the Welfare Effects of Trade," Economics Papers 140, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  4. Krugman, Paul, 1991. "Increasing Returns and Economic Geography," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(3), pages 483-99, June.
  5. Hans-Werner Sinn, 1995. "Social Insurance, Incentives, and Risk Taking," NBER Working Papers 5335, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. S. Lael Brainard, 1991. "Protecting Losers: Optimal Diversification, Insurance, and Trade Policy," NBER Working Papers 3773, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Newbery, David M G & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Pareto Inferior Trade," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(1), pages 1-12, January.
  8. R. Dornbusch & S. Fischer & P. A. Samuelson, 1976. "Comparative Advantage, Trade and Payments in a Ricardian Model With a Continuum of Goods," Working papers 178, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  9. 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.
  10. Brainard, William C. & Cooper, Richard N., 1968. "Uncertainty and Diversification in International Trade," Food Research Institute Studies, Stanford University, Food Research Institute, issue 03.
  11. Daron Acemoglu & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 1994. "Was Prometheus unbound by chance? Risk, diversification and growth," Economics Working Papers 98, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  12. Ruffin, Roy J., 1974. "International trade under uncertainty," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(3), pages 243-259, August.
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:ssa:lemwps:2006/05. 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: ()

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.