Dependency Trends in the Globalization Era: Evidence from Export Partner Concentration


Social scientists have long identified export partner concentration as a key indicator of dependency in relationships between countries, particularly between poor countries and rich countries. This study explores trends in export partner concentration in the age of globalization using IMF DOTS data. Four different measures of export partner concentration are tracked for a constant panel of 156 countries over the period 1981-2008. Results are also reported for sub-panels of rich countries, poor countries, and poor countries by region. Export partner concentration remains high among poor countries, but with some decline associated with the rise of China (and, to a lesser extent, India) as alternative export partners in the 2000s. The increasing prominence of China and India as a major export markets for poor countries implies a shift in the meaning of export partner concentration as a measure of dependency, since "dependency" in this sense no longer necessarily implies dependency on the rich countries of Europe and the United States. Nonetheless, even as the specific patterns of export partner concentration have shifted, the overall structure of the world-economy has remained the same throughout this period of massive economic change.