Working Paper

Global Risk Sharing through Trade in Goods and Assets: Theory and Evidence


  • Inga Heiland
Publication Date

Exporting not only provides firms with profit opportunities, but can also provide for risk diversification if is demand is stochastic and shocks are imperfectly correlated across countries. I develop a general equilibrium trade model, with risk-averse investors and complete asset markets, to show that the correlation pattern of demand shocks across countries constitutes a hitherto unexplored source of comparative advantage that shapes trade flows and persists even if financial markets are complete. The model yields a risk-augmented gravity equation, predicting that, conditional on trade costs and market size, exporters sell smaller quantities to countries whose shocks contribute more to aggregate volatility. I estimate the risk-augmented gravity equation using thirty years of data on trade flows and find support for the model's prediction. A counterfactual experiment shows that demand-risk-based comparative advantage accounts for 4.6% of global trade.


JEL Classification
F15, F36, F44, G11

Key Words

  • Global Risk Sharing
  • international trade
  • structural gravity