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Endogenous Variety and the Gains from Trade

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  • Costas Arkolakis
  • Svetlana Demidova
  • Peter J. Klenow
  • Andres Rodriguez-Clare

Abstract

We explore the implications of models with increasing returns, endogenous variety and firm-level heterogeneity for the quantification of the gains from trade. We first focus on the impact of trade liberalization on imported variety by analyzing the experience of Costa Rica from 1986 to 1992. We find that although liberalization triggered a sizable increase in variety, the resulting welfare gains were small because of strong heterogeneity across imported goods. Upon trade liberalization, the new varieties are imported in small quantities, and hence contribute little to welfare. We then present a model with firm-level increasing returns, differentiated goods, monopolistic competition, endogenous variety and free entry to show that total variety (domestic plus imported) can either increase, decrease or remain constant with trade liberalization. More importantly, the gains from trade do not depend on what happens to total variety. In fact, we find that, conditional on the estimated elasticities of trade with respect to trade costs, models with increasing returns, endogenous variety, free or restricted entry, and firm-level heterogeneity have exactly the same implications for welfare gains from trade liberalization as traditional models.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 98 (2008)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 444-50

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:98:y:2008:i:2:p:444-50

Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.98.2.444
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  1. Romer, Paul, 1994. "New goods, old theory, and the welfare costs of trade restrictions," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 5-38, February.
  2. Costas Arkolakis, 2008. "Market Penetration Costs and the New Consumers Margin in International Trade," NBER Working Papers 14214, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. David Weinstein & Christian Broda, 2004. "Globalization and the Gains from Variety," Econometric Society 2004 North American Summer Meetings 508, Econometric Society.
  4. Timothy J. Kehoe & Kim J. Ruhl, 2013. "How Important Is the New Goods Margin in International Trade?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 121(2), pages 358 - 392.
  5. Francis Kramarz & Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2005. "An Anatomy of International Trade: Evidence from French Firms," 2005 Meeting Papers 197, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  6. David Hummels & Peter J. Klenow, 2002. "The Variety and Quality of a Nation's Trade," NBER Working Papers 8712, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Richard E. Baldwin & Rikard Forslid, 2010. "Trade Liberalization with Heterogeneous Firms," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(2), pages 161-176, 05.
  8. Svetlana Demidova & Andrés Rodríguez-Clare, 2007. "Trade Policy under Firm-Level Heterogeneity in a Small Economy," NBER Working Papers 13688, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Feenstra, Robert C, 1994. "New Product Varieties and the Measurement of International Prices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(1), pages 157-77, March.
  10. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2002. "Technology, Geography, and Trade," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(5), pages 1741-1779, September.
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