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Consumer Heterogeneity and the Impact of Trade Liberalization: How Representative is the Representative Agent Framework?

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  • Raphael Anton Auer

Abstract

While it is well established that across-country taste differences are associated with "home market effects", there is very limited analysis of how such preference heterogeneity impacts the aggregate volume of trade and the welfare gains from liberalization. I develop a structural model of aggregate demand featuring products with heterogeneous attributes, consumers with heterogeneous tastes for attributes, and across-country differences in the distribution of tastes. The impact of across-country taste differences depends on whether the domestic industry can adjust to the mismatch between the attribute composition of imports and the domestic distribution of tastes. For the case of a large degree of across-country taste differences, countries specialize completely and the model supports notions along the lines of Linder (1961) that taste diversity impedes the volume of trade and leads to group-specific gains from trade. In contrast, if specialization is incomplete, free firm entry implies that the relative toughness of competition across different market segments must be invariant to liberalization. It is shown that therefore, both trade volume and welfare gains are entirely unaffected by the distribution of foreign tastes and coincide with those in a representative agent framework.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Swiss National Bank in its series Working Papers with number 2010-13.

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Length: 43 pages
Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:snb:snbwpa:2010-13

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Keywords: Intra-Industry Trade; Monopolistic Competition; Heterogeneous Agents; Industrial Structure; Firm Dynamics;

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References

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  1. Arnaud Costinot & Andres Rodriguez-Clare & Costas Arkolakis, 2010. "New Trade Models, Same Old Gains?," 2010 Meeting Papers 433, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Alejandro Cuñat & Marco Maffezzoli, 2007. "Can Comparative Advantage Explain the Growth of us Trade?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(520), pages 583-602, 04.
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  5. 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.
  6. ANDERSON, Simon P. & de PALMA, André & THISSE, Jacques-François, . "The CES is a discrete choice model?," CORE Discussion Papers RP -764, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  7. Raphael Auer & Thomas Chaney, 2009. "Exchange Rate Pass-Through in a Competitive Model of Pricing-to-Market," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 41(s1), pages 151-175, 02.
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Cited by:
  1. Fajgelbaum, Pablo & Grossman, Gene M. & Helpman, Elhanan, 2011. "Income distribution, product quality, and international trade," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5843, The World Bank.
  2. Claudia Bernasconi, 2013. "Similarity of income distributions and the extensive and intensive margin of bilateral trade flows," ECON - Working Papers 115, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.

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