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It has been suggested that countries whose exports are in especially risky sectors will experience higher output volatility. This paper develops a measure of the riskiness of a country's pattern of export specialization, and illustrates its features across countries and over time. The exercise reveals large cross-country differences in the risk content of exports. This measure is strongly correlated with the volatility of terms-of-trade, total exports, and output, but does not exhibit a close relationship to the level of income, overall trade openness, or other country characteristics. The authors then propose an explanation for what determines the risk content of exports, based on the theoretical literature exampled by Turnovsky (1974).
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