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How log-normal is your country? An analysis of the statistical distribution of the exported volumes of products

M. A. Annunziata, A. Petri, G. Pontuale, and A. Zaccaria


We have considered the statistical distributions of the volumes of 1131 products exported by 148 countries. We have found that the form of these distributions is not unique but heavily depends on the level of development of the nation, as expressed by macroeconomic indicators like GDP, GDP per capita, total export and a recently introduced measure for countries’ economic complexity called fitness. We have identified three major classes: a) an incomplete log-normal shape, truncated on the left side, for the less developed countries, b) a complete log-normal, with a wider range of volumes, for nations characterized by intermediate economy, and c) a strongly asymmetric shape for countries with a high degree of development. Finally, the log-normality hypothesis has been checked for the distributions of all the 148 countries through different tests, Kolmogorov-Smirnov and Cramér-Von Mises, confirming that it cannot be rejected only for the countries of intermediate economy.

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