Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program



English (en)

Date of Award

Spring 4-16-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

B. Ravikumar


In each of the three essays, I investigate gains from trade originating at three sources: i) vertical specialization through intermediate goods trade, ii) improving allocation of resources across heterogeneous firms, and iii) developing countries' technological advancement towards particular factors of production, either skilled labor or unskilled labor. I develop three models of trade, featuring multi-stage production, micro-distortions with endogenous entry and exit, and directed technical change. First, I show quantitatively that trade barriers play an important role in hindering the integration of poor countries in global market through trade in intermediate goods. Second, I find that the substantial impact of trade is to improve allocation on the extensive margin by forcing out less productive firms and replacing those with more productive firms. Third, I prove that gains from trade are magnified due to endogenously directed technical change.

In the first chapter, I investigate whether the gains from trade are systematically related to the level of development. This chapter argues that we need to consider a multi-stage production process to answer the questions. I develop a Ricardian trade model which features two stages of production. At each stage, gains from trade can be measured by the home trade share, a measure of market integration.Looking at each stage's home trade shares across countries, I find different specialization patterns: rich countries are integrated at each stage whereas most poor countries are not integrated. Measured gains from trade are more than ten times larger for the 10 richest countries than for the 10 poorest countries. For the rich countries, two-thirds of the gains are accounted for by second stage trade. Poor countries' small gains from trade are accounted entirely by first stage trade. I argue that difference in trade barriers between rich countries and poor countries, particularly in the second stage of production, limit trade gains for poor countries.

Second chapter studies the impact of international trade on sectoral total factor productivity (TFP). Misallocation of resources across heterogeneous firms impacts negatively on TFP. In this chapter, I study trade liberalization as a source of reducing misallocation across firms, thus leading to higher TFP. Misallocation is reduced on the extensive margin by forcing out less productive firms and replacing those with more productive firms. Using firm-level panel data on Chinese manufacturing, I measure distortions across firms and over time as in Hsieh and Klenow (2009). I find that the allocation of factors improves more in industries that experience a higher reduction in tariff rates. Less productive firms are more likely to exit in sectors that experience a higher tariff reduction. In addition, entrants in more liberalized sectors are more productive relative to entrants in less liberalized sectors. Reducing misallocation on the extensive margin has quantitatively large effect on TFP.

In the third chapter, I analyze how technical change is directed towards particular factors of production in international trade between the North and the South. Typical assumption in the literature is that either technologies are exogenously given or technical change is allowed only in the North. I present a model of international trade with endogenous growth by allowing the South to direct their technology. This chapter studies the implications of the technical change for the gains from trade and the skill premium. Main result shows that more R&D is directed towards skill-augmenting technology in the North than in the South in sectors with the same skill-intensity. Technical change induced by lowering trade costs can increase the skill premium in both the North and the South.Gains from trade are magnified due to endogenous directed technical change. This results in larger gains from trade compared with the model where technical change is either not allowed or allowed only in the North.


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