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Shipping the Good Apples Out? An Empirical Confirmation of the Alchian-Allen Conjecture

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  • David Hummels
  • Alexandre Skiba

Abstract

We model demand for quality differentiated goods to derive a relationship between trade costs and the quality composition of trade. Detailed data on traded goods' prices, quantities and shipping costs for many importers and exporters are used to test these predictions. These data provide a strong rejection of the iceberg assumption on transportation costs and a strong confirmation of the classical Alchian Allen hypothesis. Within a narrowly defined commodity classification, exporters charge destination-varying prices that co-vary positively with shipping costs and negatively with tariffs. Shipping costs operate as a quantitative restriction similar to quotas.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 112 (2004)
Issue (Month): 6 (December)
Pages: 1384-1402

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:112:y:2004:i:6:p:1384-1402

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  1. Aw, Bee Yan & Roberts, Mark J., 1986. "Measuring quality change in quota-constrained import markets: The Case of U.S. Footwear," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1-2), pages 45-60, August.
  2. Pinelopi K. Goldberg & Michael M. Knetter, 1996. "Goods Prices and Exchange Rates: What Have We Learned?," NBER Working Papers 5862, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Epple, Dennis, 1987. "Hedonic Prices and Implicit Markets: Estimating Demand and Supply Functions for Differentiated Products," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(1), pages 59-80, February.
  4. Umbeck, John, 1980. "Shipping the Good Apples Out: Some Ambiguities in the Interpretation of "Fixed Charge"," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(1), pages 199-208, February.
  5. Leffler, Keith B, 1982. "Ambiguous Changes in Product Quality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 956-67, December.
  6. Herguera, Inigo & Kujal, Praveen & Petrakis, Emmanuel, 2000. "Quantity restrictions and endogenous quality choice," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 18(8), pages 1259-1277, December.
  7. Falvey, Rodney E, 1979. "The Composition of Trade within Import-restricted Product Categories," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 1105-14, October.
  8. Borcherding, Thomas E & Silberberg, Eugene, 1978. "Shipping the Good Apples Out: The Alchian and Allen Theorem Reconsidered," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(1), pages 131-38, February.
  9. Carlos Alfredo Rodriguez, 1979. "The Quality of Imports and the Differential Welfare Effects of Tariffs, Quotas, and Quality Controls as Protective Devices," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 12(3), pages 439-49, August.
  10. Anderson, James E, 1985. "The Relative Inefficiency of Quotas: The Cheese Case," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 178-90, March.
  11. Rosen, Sherwin, 1974. "Hedonic Prices and Implicit Markets: Product Differentiation in Pure Competition," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(1), pages 34-55, Jan.-Feb..
  12. 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.
  13. Gould, John P & Segall, Joel, 1969. "The Substitution Effects of Transportation Costs," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 77(1), pages 130-37, Jan./Feb..
  14. Barzel, Yoram, 1976. "An Alternative Approach to the Analysis of Taxation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(6), pages 1177-97, December.
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