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Estimation of the Gravity Equation of Bilateral Trade in the Presence of Zero Flows

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  • G.J.M. Linders

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Abstract

The gravity model is the workhorse model to describe and explain variation in bilateral trade empirically. Consistent with both Heckscher-Ohlin models and models of imperfect competition and trade, this versatile model has proven to be very successful, explaining a large part of the variance in trade flows. However, the loglinear model cannot straightforwardly account for the occurrence of zero-valued trade flows between pairs of countries. This paper investigates the various approaches suggested to deal with zero flows. Apart from the option to omit the zero flows from the sample, various extensions of Tobit estimation, truncated regression, probit regression and substitutions for zero flows have been suggested. We argue that the choice of method should be based on both economic and econometric considerations. The sample selection model appears to fit both considerations best. Moreover, we show that the choice of method may matter greatly for the results, especially if the fraction of zero flows in the sample is large. In the end, the results surprisingly suggest that the simplest solution, to omit zero flows from the sample, often leads to acceptable results, although the sample selection model is preferred theoretically and econometrically.

Suggested Citation

  • G.J.M. Linders, 2006. "Estimation of the Gravity Equation of Bilateral Trade in the Presence of Zero Flows," ERSA conference papers ersa06p746, European Regional Science Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa06p746
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    5. Mireille NTSAMA ETOUNDI, 2014. "Impact de la rente pétrolière sur la demande des pays frontaliers du Cameroun," Working Papers 201417, CERDI.
    6. Jienwatcharamongkhol, Viroj, 2012. "Distance Sensitivity of Export: A Firm-Product Level Approach," Working Papers 2012:33, Lund University, Department of Economics.
    7. Bo Chen & Yao Li, 2014. "Special Issue: Issues in Asia. Guest Editor: Laixun Zhao," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(2), pages 326-339, May.
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    14. Jienwatcharamongkhol, Viroj, 2012. "Distance Sensitivity of Export: A Firm-Product Level Approach," Ratio Working Papers 201, The Ratio Institute.
    15. Turan Subasat & Sotirios Bellos, 2013. "Governance and foreign direct investment in Latin America: A panel gravity model approach," Latin American Journal of Economics-formerly Cuadernos de Economía, Instituto de Economía. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile., vol. 50(1), pages 107-131, May.
    16. Chen, Yiu Por (Vincent), 2015. "Fiscal Decentralization, Rural Industrialization, and Undocumented Labor Mobility in Rural China (1982-87)," IZA Discussion Papers 9024, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    17. Viroj Jienwatcharamongkhol, 2014. "Distance Sensitivity of Export: A Firm-Product Level Approach," Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 531-554, December.
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    19. Mogilat, A. & Salnikov, V., 2015. "Trade Effects Estimation for the Case of Eurasian Economic Space Countries: Application of Regional Gravity Model," Journal of the New Economic Association, New Economic Association, vol. 27(3), pages 80-108.
    20. Gunes Gokmen, 2012. "Economic Clash? The Role of Cultural Cleavages in Bilateral Trade Relations," EcoMod2012 4252, EcoMod.
    21. Zahoor Ul Haq & Karl Meilke, 2011. "Does the Linder effect hold for differentiated agri-food and beverage product trade?," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(27), pages 4095-4109.

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