A Domino Theory of Regionalism Revisited: The Role of Homogeneity/Heterogeneity in Institutions
48 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2021 Last revised: 19 Apr 2021
Date Written: April 19, 2021
This paper proposes that country-pairs sharing homogeneity in domestic institutions tend to sign preferential trade agreements (PTAs) interdependently, and such an interdependence effect decreases with institutional differential. Using spatial econometrics, we take democracy and economic freedom as fundamental components of the spatial weight matrix. The baseline results support our hypothesis from both the panel data over 1996 to 2017 through a probit model and the cross-sectional data through a spatial autoregressive probit model. We also employ a compound spatial weight matrix to account for the institutional differential and geographical distance simultaneously, which confirms the role of domestic institutions in the evolution of PTAs. Our findings are robust to the correction of potential endogeneity in the spatial weight matrix, and we provide not only novel evidence for the spatial effect of institutional differential on the domino-like spread of PTAs, but also some insights on the relationship between regionalism and multilateralism.
Keywords: Domino theory, institutions, multilateralism, preferential trade agreements, probit model, regionalism, spatial econometrics
JEL Classification: C21, C25, F13, F15, O24
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