The Long-Term Development of OECD Export Specialization Patterns: Despecialization and "Stickiness"
35 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 1998
The paper examines an issue related to the discussion of national specificity: whether the group of OECD countries are characterized by a high degree of stability of their export specialization patterns at the country level or not. During a period of nearly three decades from 1965 to 1992, 20 OECD countries are examined. In addition we test whether the countries have become more or less specialized in terms of trade specialization in the period in question. In order to fulfill these aims we examine the sensitivity for, firstly, the level of aggregation, and secondly, the kind of statistical methodology applied. In this context we distinguish between specialization (or de-specialization) in trade patterns on the one hand, and divergence (or on the contrary convergence) in trade patterns on the other. A specialization process refers to a process in which specialization intra-country becomes more dispersed (and counter-wise for de-specialization). On the contrary, a divergence process refers to a process in which countries become more different in terms of specialization in a particular sector, across countries (and counter-wise for convergence). The results show that elements of "stickiness" and incremental change are combined for what concerns the intra-country analysis. In addition there is a (however slow) tendency for countries to de-specialize in terms of exports. The sector-wise results display convergence both in terms of beta- and sigma-convergence.
JEL Classification: C13, F14, O31, O57
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