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How trade/GNP ratio decreases with country size


The ratio of a country's foreign trade (i.e., exports plus imports) to its GNP has a known tendency to decrease with country size. Previous studies have used a single year's data; but trade fluctuates greatly from year to year. This paper makes available a compilation of 1953-1972 export/GNP and import/GNP figures for 110 countries. The average import/GNP figure is found to correlate strongly with population size; the simple expression, Imports/GNP = 40 P -1 3, applies, within a factor of 2, in 94% of cases. No correlation with development level can be seen. The United States data throughout its history (1799-1972) follow the same inverse cube root pattern, but with a constant of 20 instead of 40. Correlation is much poorer in the case of export/GNP ration. Export and import figures are only marginally correlated to each other. © 1977.

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