The Birth and Growth of New Export Clusters: Which Mechanisms Drive Diversification?

CID Research Fellow & Graduate Student Working Paper No. 86

Dany Bahar, Ernesto Stein, Rodrigo Wagner, and Samuel Rosenow
September 2017


Export diversification is associated with economic growth and development. Our paper explores competing mechanisms that mediate the emergence and growth of export products based on their economic relatedness to pre-existing exports. Our innovation is to simultaneously consider supply factors like labor, sourcing and technology; as well as demand factors like industry specific customer-linkages in a global setting. We find that, while technology and workforce similarity explain emergence and growth, pre-existing downstream industries remain a robust predictor of diversification, especially for jump starting new exports in developing countries. Our global stylized fact generalizes Javorcik’s (2004) view that spillovers are more likely in backward linkages.

Keywords: comparative advantage, exports, relatedness, spillovers, R&D, patents, labor, upstream, downstream

JEL codes: O14, O33, F14

Affiliated Program: Growth Lab