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Middlemen Margins and Globalization

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  • Pranab Bardhan
  • Dilip Mookherjee
  • Masatoshi Tsumagari

Abstract

We study a competitive theory of middlemen with brand-name reputations necessary to overcome product quality moral hazard problems. Agents with heterogeneous abilities sort into different sectors and occupations. Middleman margins do not equalize across sectors if production of different goods are differentially prone to moral hazard, generating endogenous mobility barriers. We embed the model in a setting of North-South trade, and explore the distributive implications of trade liberalization. With large intersectoral moral hazard differences, results similar to those of Ricardo-Viner specific-factor models obtain, whereby southern inequality increases. Otherwise, opposite (i.e., Stolper-Samuelson) results obtain.

Suggested Citation

  • Pranab Bardhan & Dilip Mookherjee & Masatoshi Tsumagari, 2013. "Middlemen Margins and Globalization," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(4), pages 81-119, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmic:v:5:y:2013:i:4:p:81-119
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/mic.5.4.81
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Marianna Belloc & Samuel Bowles, 2009. "International Trade, Factor Mobility and the Persistence of Cultural-Institutional Diversity," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2009-08, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
    2. Nancy Chau & Hideaki Goto & Ravi Kanbur, 2016. "Middlemen, fair traders, and poverty," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 14(1), pages 81-108, March.
    3. Sandip Mitra & Dilip Mookherjee & Maximo Torero & Sujata Visaria, 2013. "Asymmetric Information and Middleman Margins: An Experiment with West Bengal Potato Farmers," Working Papers id:5545, eSocialSciences.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality

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