, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 75-109

Taking the measure of things: the role of measurement in EU trade

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In this paper theoretical and empirical models of intra-industry trade are developed in which economic activities, based on measurement and an associated measurement infrastructure, play a role in creating product variety. The paper discusses how the measurement infrastructure which includes institutions conducting metrological research and standard setting organization reduces transactions costs, especially in markets where differences in product characteristics are important. The theoretical analysis focuses on the public good characteristics of the measurement infrastructure, considering how the infrastructure impacts upon trade in a model based upon product differentiation under monopolistic competition. In the econometric analysis, indicators of the strength of the infrastructure within the EU, both across industries and across countries, suggest that measurement activities are important in determining the extent of bi-lateral EU intra-industry trade. Despite many common elements in the measurement infrastructure across the EU, there is also some evidence of differential access to the infrastructure among EU members.