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Trade costs in the first wave of Globalization

By David S. (David Steven) Jacks, Christopher M. (Christopher Michael) Meissner and Dennis Novy


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\ud 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\ud fell on average by ten to Þfteen percent between 1870 and 1913. We also use this measure to decompose the growth of global trade over that period and Þnd 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

Topics: HF
Publisher: National Bureau of Economic Research
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