Skip to main content

CEP discussion paper

Missing gains from trade?

The theoretical result that there are welfare gains from trade is a central tenet of international economics. In a class of trade models that satisfy a 'gravity equation,' the welfare gains from trade can be computed using only the open economy domestic trade share and the elasticity of trade with respect to variable trade costs. The measured welfare gains from trade from this quantitative approach are typically relatively modest. In this paper, we suggest a channel for welfare gains that this quantitative approach typically abstracts from: trade-induced changes in domestic productivity. Using a model of sequential production, in which trade induces a reorganization of production that raises domestic productivity, we show that the welfare gains from trade can become arbitrarily large.

Marc J. Melitz and Stephen J. Redding

14 January 2014     Paper Number CEPDP1254

Download PDF - Missing gains from trade?

This CEP discussion paper is published under the centre's Trade programme.

This publication comes under the following theme: Inequality: Winners and Losers