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Product Heterogeneity, Intangible Barriers & Distance Decay: The effect of multiple dimensions of distance on trade across different product categories


  • Maureen Lankhuizen


  • Thomas De Graaff
  • Henri De Groot


This paper empirically examines the heterogeneity in the effects of multiple dimensions of distance on trade across detailed product groups. Using finite mixture modelling on bilateral trade data at the 3-digit SITC level, we endogenously group product categories into an, a priori unknown, number of segments based on estimated coefficients of multiple dimensions of distance in the gravity equation. The paper contributes to the literature by offering a new classification of products into homogeneous groups. We find that distance decay functions in a gravity model of international trade at a disaggregate level reveal a complex process that involve location characteristics (comparative and natural advantages, demand patterns or preferences) as well as intrinsic sensitivity of trade to multiple dimensions of distance. Keywords: bilateral trade, gravity models, cultural distance, institutions, product heterogeneity, finite mixture modelling JEL code: F14, F21, F23

Suggested Citation

  • Maureen Lankhuizen & Thomas De Graaff & Henri De Groot, 2012. "Product Heterogeneity, Intangible Barriers & Distance Decay: The effect of multiple dimensions of distance on trade across different product categories," ERSA conference papers ersa12p151, European Regional Science Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa12p151

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Thomas de Graaff & Jaap Boter & Jan Rouwendal, 2009. "On spatial differences in the attractiveness of Dutch museums," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 41(11), pages 2778-2797, November.
    2. Alan V. Deardorff, 2014. "Local comparative advantage: Trade costs and the pattern of trade," International Journal of Economic Theory, The International Society for Economic Theory, vol. 10(1), pages 9-35, March.
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    4. Leisch, Friedrich, 2004. "FlexMix: A General Framework for Finite Mixture Models and Latent Class Regression in R," Journal of Statistical Software, Foundation for Open Access Statistics, vol. 11(i08).
    5. James E. Anderson & Douglas Marcouiller, 2002. "Insecurity And The Pattern Of Trade: An Empirical Investigation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(2), pages 342-352, May.
    6. Anne-Célia Disdier & Keith Head, 2008. "The Puzzling Persistence of the Distance Effect on Bilateral Trade," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(1), pages 37-48, February.
    7. Henri L. F. de Groot & Gert-Jan Linders & Piet Rietveld & Uma Subramanian, 2004. "The Institutional Determinants of Bilateral Trade Patterns," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(1), pages 103-123, February.
    8. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth Rogoff, 2001. "The Six Major Puzzles in International Macroeconomics: Is There a Common Cause?," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2000, Volume 15, pages 339-412 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Jeroen Hinloopen & Charles van Marrewijk, 2012. "Power laws and comparative advantage," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(12), pages 1483-1507, April.
    10. Maureen Lankhuizen & Henri L. F. de Groot & Gert‐Jan M. Linders, 2011. "The Trade‐Off between Foreign Direct Investments and Exports: The Role of Multiple Dimensions of Distance," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(8), pages 1395-1416, August.
    11. Bruce Kogut & Harbir Singh, 1988. "The Effect of National Culture on the Choice of Entry Mode," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 19(3), pages 411-432, September.
    12. Robert C. Feenstra & Robert E. Lipsey & Haiyan Deng & Alyson C. Ma & Hengyong Mo, 2005. "World Trade Flows: 1962-2000," NBER Working Papers 11040, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Rauch, James E., 1999. "Networks versus markets in international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 7-35, June.
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    15. James E. Rauch, 2001. "Business and Social Networks in International Trade," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(4), pages 1177-1203, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jienwatcharamongkhol, Viroj, 2012. "Distance Sensitivity of Export: A Firm-Product Level Approach," Working Papers 2012:33, Lund University, Department of Economics.
    2. 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.
    3. Ceren Ozgen & Thomas de Graff, 2013. "Sorting out the impact of cultural diversity on innovative firms. An empirical analysis of Dutch micro-data," Norface Discussion Paper Series 2013012, Norface Research Programme on Migration, Department of Economics, University College London.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • F21 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Investment; Long-Term Capital Movements
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business

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