Human Barriers to International Trade

Item Type Monograph (Discussion Paper)

This paper investigates whether the relatedness of populations across the world shapes international trade flows. Using data on common ancestry for 172 countries covering more than 99% of global trade, we document that country pairs with a larger ancestral distance are less likely to trade with each other (extensive margin) and, if they do trade, they trade fewer goods and smaller volumes (intensive margin). The results are robust to including a vast array of control variables capturing other sources of heterogeneity, including micro-geographic, political, linguistic, and religious differences. We discuss the role of several determinants of trade that lead to this negative relationship, namely differences in trust, values, consumption structures, political institutions, technology, as well as recent migration networks. Exploring the robustness of our findings, we use detailed census information on ancestry and show that U.S. states trade significantly more with ancestrally close countries.

Authors Fensore, Irene; Legge, Stefan & Schmid, Lukas
Journal or Publication Title University of St.Gallen Discussion Paper
Language English
Subjects economics
Institute/School ?? Inst SIAW ML ??
?? Ref ES ??
SIAW - Swiss Institute for International Economics and Applied Economic Research
?? SEPS LA / UA ??
?? PRS-PPP-PW ??
HSG Classification contribution to scientific community
HSG Profile Area SEPS - Quantitative Economic Methods
Date 10 September 2017
Number 2017-12
Number of Pages 57
Official URL
Depositing User Stefan Legge
Date Deposited 17 Sep 2017 20:44
Last Modified 20 Feb 2018 01:21


EWP-1712.pdf - Draft Version

Download (1MB) | Preview


Fensore, Irene; Legge, Stefan & Schmid, Lukas: Human Barriers to International Trade. Nr. 2017-12 : 2017,

Edit item Edit item