Three Decades of Italian Comparative Advantages

26 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 2003

See all articles by Luca De Benedictis

Luca De Benedictis

University of Macerata; Luiss University

Date Written: October 2003


The paper explores the structure of Italian Revealed Comparative Advantages (RCA), focusing on the export structure itself, on its change over time and on its degree of persistence. The analysis is developed with the use of visual statistical tools - such as scatter plots - and nonparametric statistical techniques that allow to estimate the empirical distribution of the Balassa (1965) Index and to track its dynamic change during three decades, from the 1970s to present. The persistence in the pattern of comparative advantage is then analyzed along the lines of four interacting theoretical explanations based on the role of dynamic scale economies, Marshallian externalities, quality and vertical differentiation, and the absence of market incentives. From an empirical view point the persistence in the pattern of comparative advantage is subsequently conditioned to the presence of industrial districts.

Keywords: International Trade, Specialization, Revealed Comparative Advantages, Nonparametrics, Italy

JEL Classification: C14, F10, F43, O57

Suggested Citation

De Benedictis, Luca, Three Decades of Italian Comparative Advantages (October 2003). Available at SSRN: or

Luca De Benedictis (Contact Author)

University of Macerata ( email )

Via Crescimbeni 20
Macerata, MC 62100


Luiss University ( email )

Viale Romania 32
Rome, 00198

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