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Economic Distance, Cultural Distance, and Openness in International Trade: Empirical Puzzles

Dale Boisso and Michael Ferrantino
Journal of Economic Integration
Vol. 12, No. 4 (December 1997), pp. 456-484
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23000396
Page Count: 29
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Economic Distance, Cultural Distance, and Openness in International Trade: Empirical Puzzles
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Abstract

We estimate annual gravity equations for 1960-85 on a large sample, allowing us to identify time trends in the coefficients. Our results include the following: (1) The weight of exporters' supply has increased relative to importers' demand in explaining the long-run strong performance of global exports; (2) The deterrent effect of economic and cultural distance on international trade increased until the early- to mid-1970s, at which point it began to decline; (3) The openness variable devised by Sachs and Warner [1985], and shown by them to be associated with faster economic growth, is indeed associated with greater imports as well, with increasing intensity over time. Lower tariffs and export taxes are also associated with greater imports, while the effect of free-trade groupings is more complex; and (4) The use of absolute price comparisons in the gravity equation is not particularly fruitful and yields counterintuitive results.

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