NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

On the Measurement of Upstreamness and Downstreamness in Global Value Chains

Pol Antràs, Davin Chor

NBER Working Paper No. 24185
Issued in January 2018
NBER Program(s):International Trade and Investment

This paper offers four contributions to the empirical literature on global value chains (GVCs). First, we provide a succinct overview of several measures developed to capture the upstreamness or downstreamness of industries and countries in GVCs. Second, we employ data from the World Input-Output Database (WIOD) to document the empirical evolution of these measures over the period 1995-2011; in doing so, we highlight salient patterns related to countries’ GVC positioning – as well as some puzzling correlations – that emerge from the data. Third, we develop a theoretical framework – which builds on Caliendo and Parro’s (2015) variant of the Eaton and Kortum (2002) model – that provides a structural interpretation of all the entries of the WIOD in a given year. Fourth, we resort to a calibrated version of the model to perform counterfactual exercises that: (i) sharpen our understanding of the independent effect of several factors in explaining the observed empirical patterns in the period 1995-2011; and (ii) provide guidance for how future changes in the world economy are likely to shape the positioning of countries in GVCs.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w24185

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