Measuring the Dynamic Gains from Trade
51 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016
Date Written: November 1998
Empirical analysis confirms that a policy of trade openness has a strong positive impact on economic growth. The accelerated accumulation of physical capital accounts for more than half this growth. Enhanced technological transmissions and improvements in the quality of macroeconomic policy each account for about 20 percent of the effect of openness on growth.
Wacziarg investigates the links between trade policy and economic growth using data from a panel of 57 countries from 1970-89. This is the first attempt to empirically evaluate, in a cross-country context, the respective roles of various theories of dynamic gains from trade in explaining the observed positive impact of trade openness on economic growth. Wacziarg uses a new measure of trade openness, based on the effective policy component of trade shares, in a simultaneous equations system aimed at identifying the effect of trade policy on several determinants of growth. The results suggest that a policy of trade openness has a strong positive impact on economic growth.
The accelerated accumulation of physical capital accounts for more than half this effect. Enhanced technological transmissions and improvements in the quality of macroeconomic policy each account for about 20 percent of the impact of trade openness on growth. This decomposition is robust to alternative specifications and time periods. Wacziarg also successfully tests whether the empirical methodology captures all or most of the effects of trade policy on growth.
The lack of statistically significant results concerning several other channels may be due to measurement problems. The black market premium may be a weak proxy for the efficiency of the price system. Moreover, international technological transmissions are very hard to measure, so there may be a downward bias in the estimates based on the manufactured exports channel, and a corresponding overstatement of other channels.
This paper - a product of the Development Prospects Group, Development Economics - is part of a larger effort in the Bank to analyze the relationship between openness and economic growth.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation