NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

An Elementary Theory of Global Supply Chains

Arnaud Costinot, Jonathan Vogel, Su Wang

NBER Working Paper No. 16936
Issued in April 2011
NBER Program(s):   ITI

This paper develops an elementary theory of global supply chains. We consider a world economy with an arbitrary number of countries, one factor of production, a continuum of intermediate goods, and one final good. Production of the final good is sequential and subject to mistakes. In the unique free trade equilibrium, countries with lower probabilities of making mistakes at all stages specialize in later stages of production. Because of the sequential nature of production, absolute productivity differences are a source of comparative advantage among nations. Using this simple theoretical framework, we offer a first look at how vertical specialization shapes the interdependence of nations.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w16936

Published: Arnaud Costinot & Jonathan Vogel & Su Wang, 2013. "An Elementary Theory of Global Supply Chains," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 80(1), pages 109-144. citation courtesy of

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