Comparative Advantage, Capital Destruction, and Hurricanes
Martino Pelli () and
Cahiers de recherche from Departement d'Economique de l'École de gestion à l'Université de Sherbrooke
The comparative advantage of countries evolves over time, yet firms do not continuously adapt their production structure to this evolution. This slow adaptation may be due to high adjustment costs, such as those associated with the disposal of existing physical capital. In practice, these costs may explain why we observe that countries export goods at both ends of the comparative advantage spectrum. This article investigates what happens if the cost of adjusting to the dynamics of comparative advantage is unexpectedly reduced. We use hurricanes to evaluate whether a negative exogenous shock to firms’ physical capital leads to a reorganization of exports towards comparative advantage industries. Using a panel of 46 countries and 4-digit industries over the period 1980-2000, we show that the effect of hurricanes on exports is monotonically increasing in comparative advantage. Specifically, export levels drop for industries with a low comparative advantage and grow for industries with a high comparative advantage. Our results also indicate that the process of shifting resources towards higher comparative advantage industries intensifies within the three years following the shock. These findings suggest that if the opportunity cost of adjustment decreases, firms tend to build back better and move up the spectrum of comparative advantage.
Keywords: comparative advantage; physical capital; hurricanes. (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: F14 O10 Q54 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 60 pages
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-int
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (10) Track citations by RSS feed
Downloads: (external link)
Journal Article: Comparative advantage, capital destruction, and hurricanes (2017)
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.
Export reference: BibTeX
RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan)
Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:shr:wpaper:17-07
Access Statistics for this paper
More papers in Cahiers de recherche from Departement d'Economique de l'École de gestion à l'Université de Sherbrooke Contact information at EDIRC.
Bibliographic data for series maintained by Jean-François Rouillard ().