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Globalization and the gains from variety

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  • Christian Broda
  • David Weinstein

Abstract

Since the seminal work of Krugman, product variety has played a central role in models of trade and growth. In spite of the general use of love-of-variety models, there has been no systematic study of how the import of new varieties has contributed to national welfare gains in the United States. In this paper, we show that the unmeasured growth in product variety from U.S. imports has been an important source of gains from trade over the last three decades (1972-2001). Using extremely disaggregated data, we show that the number of imported product varieties has increased by a factor of four. We also estimate the elasticities of substitution for each available category at the same level of aggregation and describe their behavior across time and SITC-5 industries. Using these estimates, we develop an exact price index and find that the upward bias in the conventional import price index is approximately 1.2 percent per year. The magnitude of this bias suggests that the welfare gains from variety growth in imports alone are 2.8 percent of GDP.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of New York in its series Staff Reports with number 180.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:180

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Keywords: Production (Economic theory) ; Imports ; Commercial products ; Consumer behavior ; Public welfare;

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  1. Hausman, Jerry A, 1981. "Exact Consumer's Surplus and Deadweight Loss," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(4), pages 662-76, September.
  2. Griliches, Zvi & Hausman, Jerry A., 1986. "Errors in variables in panel data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 93-118, February.
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  14. Rutherford, Thomas F. & Tarr, David G., 2002. "Trade liberalization, product variety and growth in a small open economy: a quantitative assessment," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 247-272, March.
  15. David Hummels & Peter J. Klenow, 2005. "The Variety and Quality of a Nation's Exports," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 704-723, June.
  16. Masahisa Fujita & Paul Krugman & Anthony J. Venables, 2001. "The Spatial Economy: Cities, Regions, and International Trade," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262561476, December.
  17. Goldberg, Pinelopi Koujianou, 1995. "Product Differentiation and Oligopoly in International Markets: The Case of the U.S. Automobile Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(4), pages 891-951, July.
  18. Robert C. Feenstra, 1992. "How Costly Is Protectionism?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(3), pages 159-178, Summer.
  19. Amil Petrin, 2001. "Quantifying the Benefits of New Products: The Case of the Minivan," NBER Working Papers 8227, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  1. How big are the gains from trade?
    by jdingel in Trade diversion on 2010-09-21 03:44:34
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