NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Increasing Returns and All That: A View From Trade

Werner Antweiler, Daniel Trefler

NBER Working Paper No. 7941
Issued in October 2000
NBER Program(s):   ITI

Do scale economies contribute to our understanding of international trade? Do international trade flows encode information about the extent of scale economies? To answer these questions we examine the large class of general equilibrium theories that imply Helpman-Krugman variants of the Vanek factor content prediction. Using an ambitious database on output, trade flows, and factor endowments, we find that scale economies significantly increase our understanding of the sources of comparative advantage. Further, the Helpman-Krugman framework provides a remarkable lens for viewing the general equilibrium scale elasticities encoded in trade flows. In particular, we find that a third of all goods-producing industries are characterized by scale. (The modal range of scale elasticities for this group is 1.10-1.20 and the economy-wide scale elasticity is 1.05.) Implications are drawn for the trade-and-wages debate (skill-biased scale effects) and endogenous growth.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w7941

Published: Werner Antweiler & Daniel Trefler, 2002. "Increasing Returns and All That: A View from Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 93-119, March. citation courtesy of

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