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An Infra-marginal Analysis of the Ricardian Model

  • Wen-Li Chen
  • Xiaokai Yang
  • Jeffrey D. Sachs

This paper applies the infra-marginal analysis, which is a combination of marginal and total cost-benefit analysis, to the Ricardian model. It demonstrates that the rule of marginal cost pricing does not always hold. It shows that in a 2x2 Ricardian model, there is a unique general equilibrium and that the comparative statics of the equilibrium involve discontinuous jumps -- as transaction efficiency improves, the general equilibrium structure jumps from autarky to partial division of labor and then to complete division of labor. The paper also discusses the effects of tariff in a model where trade regimes are endogenously chosen. It finds that (1) if partial division of labor occurs in equilibrium, the country that produces both goods chooses unilateral protection tariff, and the country producing a single good chooses unilateral laissez faire policy; (2) if complete division of labor occurs in equilibrium, the governments in both countries would prefer a tariff negotiation to a tariff war. Finally, the paper shows that in a model with three countries the country which does not have a comparative advantage relative to the other two countries and/or which has low transaction efficiency may be excluded from trade.

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Paper provided by Center for International Development at Harvard University in its series CID Working Papers with number 13.

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Date of creation: Apr 1999
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Handle: RePEc:wop:cidhav:13
Contact details of provider: Postal: Center for International Development at Harvard University (CID). 79 John F. Kennedy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138.
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Web page: http://www.cid.harvard.edu/cidwp/
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  1. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver, 1985. "The Cost and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," CEPR Discussion Papers 70, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Rosen, Sherwin, 1983. "Specialization and Human Capital," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(1), pages 43-49, January.
  3. John Luke Gallup & Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew D. Mellinger, 1998. "Geography and Economic Development," NBER Working Papers 6849, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Tollison, Robert D, 1982. "Rent Seeking: A Survey," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(4), pages 575-602.
  5. Houthakker, H. S., 1976. "The calculation of bilateral trade patterns in a Ricardian model with intermediate products and barriers to trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 251-288, August.
  6. Dixit, Avinash K, 1989. "Trade and Insurance with Adverse Selection," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(2), pages 235-47, April.
  7. Gomory Ralph E., 1994. "A Ricardo Model with Economies of Scale," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 394-419, April.
  8. Martin J. Osborne & Ariel Rubinstein, 2005. "Bargaining and Markets," Levine's Bibliography 666156000000000515, UCLA Department of Economics.
  9. Xiaokai Yang, 1994. "Endogenous vs. exogenous comparative advantage and economies of specialization vs. economies of scale," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 60(1), pages 29-54, February.
  10. Sachs, Jeffrey D & Warner, Andrew M, 1997. "Fundamental," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 184-88, May.
  11. Henry J. Bruton, 1998. "A Reconsideration of Import Substitution," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(2), pages 903-936, June.
  12. 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.
  13. Nash, John, 1950. "The Bargaining Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 18(2), pages 155-162, April.
  14. John J. Wallis & Douglass North, 1986. "Measuring the Transaction Sector in the American Economy, 1870-1970," NBER Chapters, in: Long-Term Factors in American Economic Growth, pages 95-162 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Dixit, Avinash, 1987. "Trade and insurance with moral hazard," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3-4), pages 201-220, November.
  16. Frye, Timothy & Shleifer, Andrei, 1997. "The Invisible Hand and the Grabbing Hand," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 354-58, May.
  17. John S. Chipman, 1979. "Mill's “Superstructure”: How Well does it Stand up?," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 11(4), pages 477-500, Winter.
  18. John Luke Gallup & Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew D. Mellinger, 1998. "Geography and Economic Development," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1856, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  19. Bruton, H.J., 1998. "A Reconsideration of Import Substitution," Center for Development Economics 156, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  20. Easton, Stephen T & Walker, Michael A, 1997. "Income, Growth, and Economic Freedom," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 328-32, May.
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