NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Trade Costs in the First Wave of Globalization

David S. Jacks, Christopher M. Meissner, Dennis Novy

NBER Working Paper No. 12602
Issued in October 2006
NBER Program(s):   DAE

What drives globalization today and in the past? We employ a new micro-founded measure of bilateral trade costs based on a standard model of trade in differentiated goods to address this question. These trade costs gauge the difference between observed bilateral trade and frictionless trade. They comprise tariffs, transportation costs and all other factors that impede international trade but which are inherently difficult to observe. Trade costs fell on average by ten to fifteen percent between 1870 and 1913. We also use this measure to decompose the growth of global trade over that period and find that roughly 44 percent of the global trade boom can be explained by reductions in trade costs; the remaining 56 percent is attributable to economic expansion.

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This paper was revised on August 10, 2007

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w12602

Published: David Jacks, Christopher M. Meissner and Dennis Novy, “Trade Costs in the First Wave of Globalization” (2010) Explorations in Economic History vol. 47 (2) pp. 127-141. citation courtesy of

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