Belarusian Economic Research and Outreach Center

FREE Policy Brief: Institutions and Comparative Advantage in Services Trade

Recent studies have highlighted the role of human capital and good economic institutions in establishing a comparative advantage in trade in complex institutions-intensive goods. We show that the effect of institutions on comparative advantage in services trade is quite different: in fact, countries with bad institutions rely significantly more on services exports. More specifically, as quality of institutions deteriorates, information technology sector (ICT) services exports as a share of total ICT exports increase significantly and countries with worse institutions get a substantial comparative advantage in the provision of ICT services. This is especially applicable to transitional economies characterized by high, arguably exogenous, human capital at the level of most advanced countries.