Trade, Variety, and Immigration
What are the gains from international trade? And how do immigrants influence this process? While economists have considered these questions before, particularly in the context of aggregate trade flows, there has been no work assessing the relation between immigration and international trade in varieties--that is, the trade of particular goods from particular geographic areas. We consider the case of Canada, document its impressive experience with import variety growth in the period from 1988 to 2007, and relate this variety growth to the process of immigration. We find that import varieties grew 76%, that this growth is associated with a welfare gain to Canadian consumers as large as 28%, and that enhanced immigration flows may be responsible for 25% of this variety growth and its attendant welfare gains for native-born Canadians.
The authors gratefully acknowledge funding for this project from Metropolis British Columbia. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.