Professor James Anderson

Professor James E. Anderson

William B. Neenan S.J. Millennium Professor of Economics

About Me

I have made numerous contributions to the theory of international trade and trade policy. See my curriculum vitae for details. Like most economists, I am a convinced liberal trader. For a discussion of why this is so despite sympathy for poor people who may be harmed by trade, see my essay for the New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics. Index numbers of trade policy were and are a focus of my research. (How high are trade barriers, understanding that there are thousands of them?) My book with Peter Neary (MIT Press, Dec. 2005) integrates and extends this work. Most recently I have focused on inference about other forms of trade barriers that are implicit in trade patterns. I am best known for the economic theory of gravity (AER, 1979) that provides structural foundations for this inference. Multilateral resistance indexes capture the effect on bilateral trade of the partners' trade costs with all other parties. Applications resolve the border puzzle (why the US-Canada border appears so costly; AER, 2003) and the mystery of the missing globalization (why gravity coefficients are constant yet trade/GDP rises; NBER, 2008, AER 2010). My survey on the gravity model in Annual Review of Economics, 2011. A much briefer version here improves on the bad Wikipedia article on the gravity model of trade. Related research estimates the volume effects of free trade agreements and infers from them the terms of trade effects (NBER 2011, VoxEU). Most recently, I have focused on short run gravity and its relation to long run gravity (NBER, 2017) via a tractable general equilibrium model of network linkages. Other research focuses on insecurity and its implicit effect on trade. (How much does predation, corruption and poor enforceability of contract limit trade? How do institutions evolve to enable and secure trade?) Various papers in these lines of research are abstracted below and available for downloading from research downloads. My profile on Repec is here. My Google citations profile is here.

I currently serve on the Editorial Board of the Review of International Economics, and have served on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of International Economics and the American Economic Review. I am a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research and appear in Who's Who in Economcs, 3rd Edition. In 1999 I received a Boston College Distinguished Senior Research Award. In 2004 I was appointed William B. Neenan Millenium Professor of Economics at Boston College, the Economics Department's first endowed chair. I served as Department chair 6/2009 to 6/2012.

I enjoy tennis, running, biking and skiing, especially Nordic. In quieter moments of leisure I consume quantities of novels, biographies and histories. My current favorite recommendation as a mind-expanding book for anyone is Paul Seabright's The Company of Strangers . In the same big picture history line I also recommend Fernand Braudel's The Wheels of Commerce, William McNeill's The Rise of the West and Joel Mokyr's The Lever of Riches. For really big picture speculative fiction my favorite is Olaf Stapledon's classic Last and First Men. Daniel Kahnemann's Thinking Fast and Slow has altered my view of human nature.

As an undergraduate I thought of becoming an historian, a taste which survives in my occasionally teaching undergraduate economic history and will emerge someday in research.

My home page on the Economics Department website has more information, and other downloadable research and software. The Department website has many excellent and interesting links.