DP18421 Gravity with History: On Incumbency Effects in International Trade
Countries trade more if they liberalized their trade relationship earlier. We derive a gravity equation featuring this path dependence due to sunk market-access costs that generate incumbency effects. We provide supporting evidence for the underlying mechanism and derive an augmented ACR formula (Arkolakis et al., 2012) for the gains from trade that accounts for incumbency effects. A quantification suggests our mechanism explains up to 25% of countries’ home shares, and the gains from trade are, on average, 10% larger when allowing for incumbency effects. The analysis further reveals novel distributional effects of trade, boosting real wages but reducing profits.