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Workers' skills, product quality and industry equilibrium


  • Gabszewicz, J.
  • Turrini, A.


In this paper we develop a model of a vertically differentiated industry where the production of higher quality goods needs a higher fraction of specialized labour. In the first stage, firms choose the quality of their products, in the second, both good prices and skilled workers’ wages are determined. We show that in duopoly, though supplying different variants of the product, firms tend to cluster either at the bottom or at the top of the quality ladder, depending on skilled labour availability. This switch in equilibrium qualities creates a discontinuous behaviour for the wage rate of skilled workers. When the supply of skilled labour is made endogenous, two equilibria are simultaneously possible: one with low-skill, low quality, the other with high-skill, high-quality.
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Suggested Citation

  • Gabszewicz, J. & Turrini, A., 2000. "Workers' skills, product quality and industry equilibrium," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 18(4), pages 575-593, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:indorg:v:18:y:2000:i:4:p:575-593

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Michael Kremer, 1993. "The O-Ring Theory of Economic Development," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 551-575.
    2. A. Daly & D.M.W.N. Hitchens & K. Wagner, 1985. "Productivity, Machinery and Skills in a Sample of British and German Manufacturing Plants," National Institute Economic Review, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, vol. 111(1), pages 48-61, February.
    3. Motta, Massimo, 1993. "Endogenous Quality Choice: Price vs. Quantity Competition," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(2), pages 113-131, June.
    4. Webster, Allan, 1993. "The Skill and Higher Educational Content of UK Net Exports," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 55(2), pages 141-159, May.
    5. Redding, Stephen, 1996. "The Low-Skill, Low-Quality Trap: Strategic Complementarities between Human Capital and R&D," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(435), pages 458-470, March.
    6. Courakis, Anthony S, 1991. "Labour Skills and Human Capital in the Explanation of Trade Patterns," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 43(3), pages 443-462, July.
    7. Snower, Dennis J., 1994. "The Low-Skill, Bad-Job Trap," CEPR Discussion Papers 999, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Mussa, Michael & Rosen, Sherwin, 1978. "Monopoly and product quality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 301-317, August.
    9. Jaskold Gabszewicz, J. & Thisse, J. -F., 1979. "Price competition, quality and income disparities," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 340-359, June.
    10. Esther Gal-Or, 1983. "Quality and Quantity Competition," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 14(2), pages 590-600, Autumn.
    11. repec:sae:niesru:v:111:y::i:1:p:48-61 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Acemoglu, Daron, 1994. "Search in the Labour Market, Incomplete Contracts and Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 1026, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    13. Shaked, Avner & Sutton, John, 1983. "Natural Oligopolies," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(5), pages 1469-1483, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lionel Fontagné & Michael Freudenberg & Guillaume Gaulier, 2005. "Disentangling Horizontal and Vertical Intra-Industry Trade," Working Papers 2005-10, CEPII research center.
    2. Bhattacharyya, Ranajoy & Saha, Bibhas, 2011. "Wage bargaining and quality competition," MPRA Paper 30968, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Jean-Luc Demeulemeester & Olivier Debande, 2008. "Quality and Variety Competition in Higher Education," Working Papers 08-10, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC).
    4. Lutz, Stefan & Turrini, Alessandro, 1999. "Skills, labour costs and vertically differentiated industries: A general equilibrium analysis," ZEI Working Papers B 26-1999, University of Bonn, ZEI - Center for European Integration Studies.
    5. Jean Gabszewicz & Alessandro Turrini & Jean-Claude Berthlemy, 1999. "Workers' Skills and Product Selection," Revue Économique, Programme National Persée, vol. 50(3), pages 383-391.
    6. Emanuele Bacchiega & Antonio Minniti, 2015. "Training and Product Quality in Unionized Oligopolies," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 82, pages 1261-1301, December.
    7. E. Bacchiega & O. Bonroy, 2012. "Vertical relations and number of channels in quality-differentiated markets," Working Papers wp823, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
    8. Lionel Fontagné & Michael Freudenberg & Guillaume Gaulier, 2006. "A Systematic Decomposition of World Trade into Horizontal and Vertical IIT," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 142(3), pages 459-475, October.
    9. BACCHIEGA, Emanuele, 2004. "Vertical differentiation, wage bargaining and intra-industry trade liberalization," CORE Discussion Papers 2004028, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    10. Bacchiega, Emanuele & Randon, Emanuela & Zirulia, Lorenzo, 2012. "Strategic accessibility competition," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 195-212.
    11. Christos Bilanakos & John S. Heywood & John Sessions & Nikolaos Theodoropoulos, 2014. "Worker Training and Competing on Product Quality," University of Cyprus Working Papers in Economics 08-2014, University of Cyprus Department of Economics.
    12. Techawiboonwong, Atthawit & Yenradee, Pisal & Das, Sanchoy K., 2006. "A master scheduling model with skilled and unskilled temporary workers," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 103(2), pages 798-809, October.
    13. Bilanakosa, Christos & Heywood, John S. & Sessions, John & Theodoropoulos, Nikolaos, 2017. "Worker Training and Quality Competition," GLO Discussion Paper Series 137, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    14. Lutz, Stefan & Turrini, Alessandro, 2006. "A general equilibrium model with vertically differentiated industries, skilled labour and trade," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 1-19, January.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D4 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality


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