Journal Of The Econometric Society

An International Society for the Advancement of Economic
Theory in its Relation to Statistics and Mathematics

Edited by: Guido W. Imbens • Print ISSN: 0012-9682 • Online ISSN: 1468-0262

Econometrica: Nov, 2014, Volume 82, Issue 6

Information Frictions in Trade
p. 2041-2083

Treb Allen

It is costly to learn about market conditions elsewhere, especially in developing countries. This paper examines how such information frictions affect trade. Using data on regional agricultural trade in the Philippines, I first document a number of observed patterns in trade flows and prices that suggest the presence of information frictions. I then incorporate information frictions into a perfect competition trade model by embedding a process whereby heterogeneous producers engage in a costly sequential search process to determine where to sell their produce. I show that introducing information frictions reconciles the theory with the observed patterns in the data. Structural estimation of the model finds that information frictions are quantitatively important: roughly half the observed regional price dispersion is due to information frictions. Furthermore, incorporating information frictions improves the out‐of‐sample predictive power of the model.

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