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Alexander Tarasov, Ph.D.

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Job Market Paper

  • Trade and the Spatial Distribution of Transport Infrastructure, 2014, with Gabriel Felbermayr

    This paper constructs a theoretical model, in which transportation costs between two locations depend on cumulative infrastructure investment and governments allocate infrastructure spending over continuous space, thereby affecting the geographical pattern of transportation costs. Modelling international trade, we assume that governments set their infrastructure investment schedules in a non-cooperative fashion. We find that governments provide too little infrastructure investment because they ignore the benefits from reductions in domestic transportation costs that accrue to foreign consumers. Moreover, the distribution of infrastructure chosen by local governments is skewed towards central regions, which magnifies small discrete border frictions and creates 'border regions' within countries. French data on transportation costs are consistent with our theory.


Veröffentlichte Aufsätze                                                                                                           

  • Trade Costs, Conflicts, and Defense Spending, 2014, with Michael Seitz and Roman Zakharenko, accepted for publication in the Journal of International Economics

    This paper develops a quantitative model of trade, military conflicts, and defense spending. Lowering trade costs between two countries reduces probability of an armed conflict between them, causing both to cut defense spending. This in turn causes a domino effect on defense spending by other countries. As a result, both countries and the rest of the world are better off. We estimate the model using data on trade, conflicts, and military spending. We find that, after reduction of costs of trade between a pair of hostile countries, the welfare effect of worldwide defense spending cuts is comparable in magnitude to the direct welfare gains from trade.

  • Trade Openness and Cross-country Income Differences, 2014, with Christian Hepenstrick, accepted for publication in the Review of International Economics

    Development accounting literature usually attributes the observed cross-country variation in per capita income to differences in countries' factor endowments and total factor productivity (the Solow residual). While the former can be relatively straightforward interpreted and measured, the latter remains at least partly a black box. In this paper, we provide a structural interpretation for differences in total factor productivity across countries and quantitatively explore the role of trade barriers in explaining cross-country income differences. In particular, we find that giving all countries the same market entry costs or giving all country-pairs the same variable trade costs reduces inequality by around 13%.

  • Per capita income and the extensive margin of bilateral trade, 2014, with Christian Hepenstrick, accepted for publication in Canadian Journal of Economics

    This paper quantitatively explores the role of the demand structure in explaining the relationship between an importer's per capita income and the extensive margin of bilateral trade. The underlying mechanism is based on the fact that agents expand the set of goods they consume with income. This in turn affects the structure of a country's import demand and therewith the extensive margin of trade. We formalize this intuition by incorporating preferences that allow for binding non-negativity constraints into an otherwise standard Ricardian multi-country model. We quantify the model using the data on US consumer exp enditures and aggregate values of bilateral trade flows and find that the behavior of the model's extensive margin of bilateral trade is consistent with the data (as opposed to the standard model). Two popular counterfactual experiments - lower trade costs and the rise of China and India - demonstrate that the mechanism outlined in this paper is indeed quantitatively important.

  • Preferences and Income Effects in Monopolistic Competition Models, 2014, Social Choice and Welfare, 42(3), 647-669.

    This paper develops a novel approach to modeling preferences in monopolistic competition models with a continuum of goods. In contrast to the commonly used CES preferences, which do not capture the effects of consumer income and the intensity of competition on equilibrium prices, the present preferences can capture both effects. The relationship between consumers' incomes and product prices is then analyzed for two cases: with and without income heterogeneity.

  • Per Capita Income, Market Access Costs, and Trade Volumes, 2012, Journal of International Economics 86(2), 284-294.

    There is strong empirical evidence that countries with lower per capita income tend to have smaller trade volumes even after controlling for aggregate income. Furthermore, poorer countries do not just trade less, but have a lower number of trading partners. In this paper, I construct and estimate a general equilibrium model of trade that captures both these features of the trade data. The key element of the model is an association between trade costs (both variable and fixed) and countries' development levels, which can account for the effect of per capita income on trade volumes and explain many zeros in bilateral trade flows. I find that market access costs play an important role in fitting the model to the data. In a counterfactual analysis, I find that removing the asymmetries in trade costs raises welfare in all countries with an average percentage change equal to 29% and larger gains for smaller and poorer countries. The real income inequality falls by 43%.

  • Trade Liberalization and Welfare Inequality: A Demand-Based Approach, 2012, Scandinavian Journal of Economics, 114(4), 1296-1317. Appendix

    There is strong evidence suggesting that different income groups consume different bundles of goods. Hence, trade liberalization can affect welfare inequality via changes in the relative prices of goods consumed by different income groups (the price effect). In this paper, I develop a framework that enables us to explore the role of the price effect in determining welfare inequality. I find that trade liberalization does benefit some income classes more than others. In particular, I show that the relative welfare of the rich with respect to that of the poor has a hump shape as a function of trade costs.

  • Income Distribution, Market Structure, and Individual Welfare, 2009, The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics: Vol. 9 : Iss. 1 (Contributions), Article 39.

    This paper explores how income distribution affects market structure, prices, and economic well-being of different consumer groups. I consider a general equilibrium model of monopolistic competition with free entry, heterogenous firms and consumers that share identical but non-homothetic preferences. The results in the paper suggest that poverty reduction might be of a greater importance than lowering income inequality, as lower income inequality does not necessarily lead to welfare gains of the poor. In particular, I show that higher income inequality may benefit the poor via a trickle-down effect operating through the entry of firms into the market.


  • Trade in Tasks and the Organization of Firms, 2014, with Dalia Marin and Jan Schymik

    We incorporate trade in tasks a’ la Grossman and Rossi-Hansberg (2008) into a small open economy version of the theory of firm organization of Marin and Verdier (2012) to examine how offshoring affects the way firms organize. We show that the offshoring of production tasks leads firms to reorganize with a more decentralized management, improving the competitiveness of the offshoring firms. We show further that the offshoring of managerial tasks relaxes the constraint on managers but toughens competition, and thus has an ambiguous impact on the level of decentralized management and CEO wages of the offshoring firms. In sufficiently open economies, however, managerial offshoring unambiguously leads to more decentralized management and to larger CEO wages. We test the predictions of the model based on original firm level data we designed and collected of 660 Austrian and German multinational firms with 2200 subsidiaries in Eastern Europe. We find that offshoring firms are 33.4% more decentralized than non-offshoring firms. We find further that the average fraction of managers offshored reduces the level of decentralized management by 3.1%, but increases the level of decentralized management by 4% in industries with a level of openness above the 25th percentile of the openness distribution. Lastly, we find that one additional offshored manager lowers CEO wages relative to workers by 4.9%.

  • Affirmative Action: One Size Does Not Fit All, 2014, with Kala Krishna. Appendix, revision requested by the American Economic Journal: Microeconomics

    This paper identifies a new reason for giving preferences to the disadvantaged using a model of contests. There are two forces at work: the effort effect working against giving preferences and the selection effect working for them. When education is costly and easy to obtain (as in the U.S.), the selection effect dominates. When education is heavily subsidized and limited in supply (as in India), preferences are welfare reducing. The model also shows that unequal treatment of identical agents can be welfare improving, providing insights into when the counterintuitive policy of rationing educational access to some subgroups is welfare improving.

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