32 research outputs found

    The Institutional Determinants of Bilateral Trade Patterns

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    The intensity of international transactions remains lower than could be potentially justified on the basis of transportation costs alone. This has become known as the ÔÇśmystery of the missing tradeÔÇÖ. Transaction costs may be responsible for ÔÇśunder-tradingÔÇÖ across national borders. More specifically, the relatively low intensity of foreign trade may reflect the importance of institutions for cross-border transactions. This paper studies the effect of institutions on trade flows, using a gravity model approach. According to the gravity model, trade between any two countries is a function of each country's gross domestic product, the distance between them, and possibly other variables that reflect the costs of trade between them. We start from a standard gravity equation that incorporates variables for geographical proximity, common language, trade policy and common history. These factors reflect costs of trade across geographical and cultural distances. The quality of governance and the extent of familiarity with the resulting framework of rules and norms also affect the costs of doing business between any pair of countries. The effects of institutional quality and similarity on transaction costs may be substantial in international markets. Because of the greater extent of competition and higher uncertainty in international markets, the impact of quality and similarity of institutions on cross-border trade may be relatively pronounced. Therefore, this paper extends the gravity equation to include proxies for institutional quality and institutional homogeneity between trade partners. We use indicators on political stability, regulatory quality, corruption and other proxies that reflect the quality of governance, available from the comparative data set constructed by Kaufmann and others (World Bank, 2002). Variables that capture similarity in the quality of institutions are then constructed from these indicators. We test whether institutional homogeneity and institutional quality have an independent impact on trade volume between pairs of countries. The results indicate that, for example, having a similar law or regulatory framework promotes bilateral trade. Furthermore, a better quality of formal institutions on average coincides with higher trade. JEL codes: F14 Keywords: bilateral trade flows, gravity model, institution

    The Space of Gravity: Spatially Filtered Estimation of a Gravity Model for Bilateral Trade

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    Bilateral trade flows traditionally have been analysed by means of the spatial interaction gravity model. Still, (auto)correlation of trade flows has only recently received attention in the literature. This paper takes up this thread of emerging literature, and shows that spatial filtering (SF) techniques can take into account the autocorrelation in trade flows. Furthermore, we show that the use of origin and destination specific spatial filters goes a long way in correcting for omitted variable bias in an otherwise standard empirical gravity equation. For a cross-section of bilateral trade flows, we compare an SF approach to two benchmark specifications that are consistent with theoretically derived gravity. The results are relevant for a number of reasons. First, we correct for autocorrelation in the residuals. Second, we suggest that the empirical gravity equation can still be considered in applied work, despite the theoretical arguments for its misspecification due to omitted multilateral resistance terms. Third, if we include SF variables, we can still resort to any desired estimator, such as OLS, Poisson or negative binomial regression. Finally, interpreting endogeneity bias as autocorrelation in regressor variables and residuals allows for a more general specification of the gravity equation than the relatively restricted theoretical gravity equation. In particular, we can include additional country-specific push and pull variables, besides GDP (e.g., land area, landlockedness, and per capita GDP). A final analysis provides autocorrelation diagnostics according to different candidate indicators

    The Space of Gravity: Spatial Filtering Estimation of a Gravity Model for Bilateral Trade

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    Bilateral trade flows traditionally have been analysed by means of the spatial interaction gravity model. Still, (auto)correlation of trade flows has only recently received attention in the literature. This paper takes up this thread of emerging literature, and shows that spatial filtering (SF) techniques can take into account the autocorrelation in trade flows. Furthermore, we show that the use of origin and destination specific spatial filters goes a long way in correcting for omitted variable bias in an otherwise standard empirical gravity equation. For a cross-section of bilateral trade flows, we compare an SF approach to two benchmark specifications that are consistent with theoretically derived gravity. The results are relevant for a number of reasons. First, we correct for autocorrelation in the residuals. Second, we suggest that the empirical gravity equation can still be considered in applied work, despite the theoretical arguments for its misspecification due to omitted multilateral resistance terms. Third, if we include SF variables, we can still resort to any desired estimator, such as OLS, Poisson or negative binomial regression. Finally, interpreting endogeneity bias as autocorrelation in regressor variables and residuals allows for a more general specification of the gravity equation than the relatively restricted theoretical gravity equation. In particular, we can include additional country-specific push and pull variables, besides GDP (e.g., land area, landlockedness, and per capita GDP). A final analysis provides autocorrelation diagnostics according to different candidate indicators
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