Looking for orders of magnitude : five essays in trade and the environment and economic geography


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Thèse: thèse de doctorat.
Looking for orders of magnitude : five essays in trade and the environment and economic geography
Mathys N.A.
Brülhart M.
Détails de l'institution
Université de Lausanne, Faculté des hautes études commerciales
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General Summary
Although the chapters of this thesis address a variety of issues, the principal aim is common: test economic ideas in an international economic context. The intention has been to supply empirical findings using the largest suitable data sets and making use of the most appropriate empirical techniques.
This thesis can roughly be divided into two parts: the first one, corresponding to the first two chapters, investigates the link between trade and the environment, the second one, the last three chapters, is related to economic geography issues. Environmental problems are omnipresent in the daily press nowadays and one of the arguments put forward is that globalisation causes severe environmental problems through the reallocation of investments and production to countries with less stringent environmental regulations. A measure of the amplitude of this undesirable effect is provided in the first part. The third and the fourth chapters explore the productivity effects of agglomeration. The computed spillover effects between different sectors indicate how cluster-formation might be productivity enhancing. The last chapter is not about how to better understand the world but how to measure it and it was just a great pleasure to work on it. "The Economist" writes every week about the impressive population and economic growth observed in China and India, and everybody agrees that the world's center of gravity has shifted. But by how much and how fast did it shift? An answer is given in the last part, which proposes a global measure for the location of world production and allows to visualize our results in Google Earth. A short summary of each of the five chapters is provided below.
The first chapter, entitled "Unraveling the World-Wide Pollution-Haven Effect" investigates the relative strength of the pollution haven effect (PH, comparative advantage in dirty products due to differences in environmental regulation) and the factor endowment effect (FE, comparative advantage in dirty, capital intensive products due to differences in endowments). We compute the pollution content of imports using the IPPS coefficients (for three pollutants, namely biological oxygen demand, sulphur dioxide and toxic pollution intensity for all manufacturing sectors) provided by the World Bank and use a gravity-type framework to isolate the two above mentioned effects. Our study covers 48 countries that can be classified into 29 Southern and 19 Northern countries and uses the lead content of gasoline as proxy for environmental stringency. For North-South trade we find significant PH and FE effects going in the expected, opposite directions and being of similar magnitude. However, when looking at world trade, the effects become very small because of the high North-North trade share, where we have no a priori expectations about the signs of these effects. Therefore popular fears about the trade effects of differences in environmental regulations might by exaggerated.
The second chapter is entitled "Is trade bad for the Environment? Decomposing worldwide SO2 emissions, 1990-2000". First we construct a novel and large database containing reasonable estimates of SO2 emission intensities per unit labor that vary across countries, periods and manufacturing sectors. Then we use these original data (covering 31 developed and 31 developing countries) to decompose the worldwide SO2 emissions into the three well known dynamic effects (scale, technique and composition effect). We find that the positive scale (+9,5%) and the negative technique (-12.5%) effect are the main driving forces of emission changes. Composition effects between countries and sectors are smaller, both negative and of similar magnitude (-3.5% each). Given that trade matters via the composition effects this means that trade reduces total emissions. We next construct, in a first experiment, a hypothetical world where no trade happens, i.e. each country produces its imports at home and does no longer produce its exports. The difference between the actual and this no-trade world allows us (under the omission of price effects) to compute a static first-order trade effect. The latter now increases total world emissions because it allows, on average, dirty countries to specialize in dirty products. However, this effect is smaller (3.5%) in 2000 than in 1990 (10%), in line with the negative dynamic composition effect identified in the previous exercise. We then propose a second experiment, comparing effective emissions with the maximum or minimum possible level of SO2 emissions. These hypothetical levels of emissions are obtained by reallocating labour accordingly across sectors within each country (under the country-employment and the world industry-production constraints). Using linear programming techniques, we show that emissions are reduced by 90% with respect to the worst case, but that they could still be reduced further by another 80% if emissions were to be minimized. The findings from this chapter go together with those from chapter one in the sense that trade-induced composition effect do not seem to be the main source of pollution, at least in the recent past.
Going now to the economic geography part of this thesis, the third chapter, entitled "A Dynamic Model with Sectoral Agglomeration Effects" consists of a short note that derives the theoretical model estimated in the fourth chapter. The derivation is directly based on the multi-regional framework by Ciccone (2002) but extends it in order to include sectoral disaggregation and a temporal dimension. This allows us formally to write present productivity as a function of past productivity and other contemporaneous and past control variables.
The fourth chapter entitled "Sectoral Agglomeration Effects in a Panel of European Regions" takes the final equation derived in chapter three to the data. We investigate the empirical link between density and labour productivity based on regional data (245 NUTS-2 regions over the period 1980-2003). Using dynamic panel techniques allows us to control for the possible endogeneity of density and for region specific effects. We find a positive long run elasticity of density with respect to labour productivity of about 13%. When using data at the sectoral level it seems that positive cross-sector and negative own-sector externalities are present in manufacturing while financial services display strong positive own-sector effects.
The fifth and last chapter entitled "Is the World's Economic Center of Gravity Already in Asia?" computes the world economic, demographic and geographic center of gravity for 1975-2004 and compares them. Based on data for the largest cities in the world and using the physical concept of center of mass, we find that the world's economic center of gravity is still located in Europe, even though there is a clear shift towards Asia.
To sum up, this thesis makes three main contributions. First, it provides new estimates of orders of magnitudes for the role of trade in the globalisation and environment debate. Second, it computes reliable and disaggregated elasticities for the effect of density on labour productivity in European regions. Third, it allows us, in a geometrically rigorous way, to track the path of the world's economic center of gravity.
Création de la notice
13/07/2010 14:29
Dernière modification de la notice
20/08/2019 16:09
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