Does Aid Cause Trade? Evidence from an Asymmetric Gravity Model


  • We have benefited from useful comments by Oliver Morrissey, Peter Egger and an anonymous referee for this journal. All have led to substantial improvements over previous versions of the paper. We are, of course, solely responsible for remaining shortcomings.


Anderson and vanWincoop developed what has become the standard framework for framing and interpreting empirical work using the gravity model. Their framework relies heavily on an assumption of symmetry among countries. For issues related to North-South trade, this assumption is problematic. In this paper, we develop an asymmetric extension of the Anderson–vanWincoop framework appropriate to the analysis of North-South trade, where Northern countries produce differentiated goods and Southern countries homogenous ones. In addition, we use an appropriately extended version of Baier and Bergtrand and Taylor linear expansion – thus permitting its estimation using (good old) OLS. The result is an empirical model that (i) is better suited to the analysis of North-South trade, (ii) is easy to estimate and compute comparative statics, not requiring a customised NLS routine and, given the way the South is included, (iii) provides a simple explanation of zero trade flows between some country pairs, a fact still not fully explained in the literature. As an illustration of its use, we examine the empirical link between foreign aid and trade.