Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography

April 23, 2018

# 18.18 On the evolution of comparative advantage: path-dependent versus path-defying changes

Filed under: 2018 — Tags: , , , — T.Broekel @ 7:13 am

Nicola D. Coniglio & Davide Vurchio & Nicola Cantore & Michele Clara

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Abstract: The diversification of production and trade is considered almost unanimously a fundamental policy goal, particularly for developing economies whose export baskets are heavily concentrated on a few products. In what direction trade diversification ought to take place is, however, subject to fierce debate. The Product Space (PS) framework (Hausmann and Klinger, 2007; Hidalgo et al. 2007) is a recent contribution in the economic literature that has proved very influential in policy circles. It argues that the endowment of production capabilities (technologies, production factors, institutions etc.) determines what countries produce today but it also constrains what they can produce in the future as it is uncommon that countries develop a comparative advantage in goods that do not draw from the same pool of capabilities (unrelated products). Contributions along such line argue that defying the initial comparative advantage can be a risky policy decision with high probability of failure. The main objective of this contribution is to use a novel methodology to investigate whether the patterns of diversification of a sample of 177 countries over the period 1995-2015 conform or not to the prediction of the PS framework. We find evidence of a high degree of path-dependence but our analysis suggests also that a significant number of new products that entered countries’ export baskets were unrelated to the initial productive specialization (path-defying changes). We shed light on the determinants of these ‘radical’ patterns of diversification and show they are associated with higher economic growth. The results of this study have important policy implications in particular for the design of industrial policies aimed at actively shaping countries’ structural transformation.

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April 6, 2018

# 18.16 Towards economically dynamic Special Economic Zones in emerging countries

Filed under: 2018 — Tags: , , , — T.Broekel @ 7:12 pm

Susanne A. Frick & Andrés Rodríguez-Pose & Michael D. Wong

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Abstract: Despite a massive recent proliferation of Special Economic Zones (SEZs), there is virtually no quantitative research on what drives their dynamism. The aim of this paper is to address this gap and analyse the factors influencing SEZ performance – proxied by economic growth – in emerging countries. The paper relies on two novel datasets, using night-lights data to proxy for SEZ performance and containing a wide range of SEZ policy variables and characteristics across a large number of countries. The main results of the analysis indicate that a) zone growth is difficult to sustain over time; that b) trying to upgrade the technological component or value-added of the economy through SEZ policies is often challenging; and that c) zone size matters: larger zones have an advantage in terms of growth potential. Furthermore, country context significantly determines SEZ performance. Firms look for low cost locations, but in close proximity to large cities. Proximity to large markets as well as pre-existing industrialization also increase SEZ performance. In contrast, incentives and other program specific variables are highly context-specific and not structurally correlated with SEZ performance.

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