The evolution of world trade from 1995 to 2014: A network approach

Freddy Cepeda-López, Fredy Gamboa-Estrada, Carlos León, Hernán Rincón-Castro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


This paper employs network analysis to study world trade from 1995 to 2014. We focus on the main connective features of the world trade network (WTN) and their dynamics. Results suggest that countries’ efforts to attain the benefits of trade have resulted in an intertwined network that is increasingly dense, reciprocal, and clustered. However, these features do not correspond to a linear aggregation of the characteristics of its constituents (trade sectors). Trade linkages are distributed homogeneously among countries, but their intensity (i.e. their value) is highly concentrated in a small set of countries. The main connective features of the WTN were not affected by the 2007–2008 international financial crisis. However, we find that the crisis marks a turning point in the evolution of the WTN from a two-group (led by the US and Germany) to a three-group (led by the US, Germany, and China) hierarchical structure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)452-485
JournalJournal of International Trade and Economic Development
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • World trade
  • graph
  • minimal spanning tree
  • network analysis


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