Location of Repository

It’s a Big World After All

By Steven Brakman and Charles van Marrewijk


Thomas Friedman’s book the world is flat has been a bestseller since it appeared in 2005. The remarkable success of the book reflects to a certain extent the present fears with respect to increasing globalization. Using many examples, Friedman argues that distance (however defined) is no longer a dominant characteristic of the world economy, or will cease to be so in the very near future. Competition is thought to be a race to the bottom, with the lowest-wage countries as the big winners. We disagree, and with us many other economists (see, for example, Leamer, 2006). Distance dominates all aspects of international trade and many stylized facts of international trade can only be understood by pointing towards the importance of distance. Furthermore, there is little evidence of income convergence. Using various methods and data sets, we show that many threats of global competition for the position of the traditionally developed (OECD) countries are unwarranted.income levels, convergence, trade, distance, leapfrogging

OAI identifier:

Suggested articles



  1. (2006). A flat world, a level playing field, a small world after all, or none of the above?”,
  2. (2004). Advanced international trade: theory and evidence,
  3. (1982). and A.J.Venables (2006), Timeliness and Agglomeration,
  4. (2007). Contours of the world economy 1-2030 AD: essays in macroeconomic history,
  5. (2003). Economic geography and public policy,
  6. (2006). Economic integration and income convergence: not such a strong link?”,
  7. (1998). Integration of trade and disintegration of production in the global economy,”
  8. (2005). Measuring the restrictiveness of international trade policy,
  9. (2001). The death of distance,
  10. (2006). The puzzling persistence of the distance effect on bilateral trade,” mimeo, University of British Columbia, forthcoming in The Review of Economics and Statistics.
  11. (2000). The six major puzzles in international macroeconomics: is there a common cause?”, NBER Working Paper, No.7777,
  12. (2006). The World Distribution of Income: Falling Poverty and …Convergence, Period,
  13. (2004). Trade costs,”

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.