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Quality and gravity in international trade

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  • Flach, Lisandra
  • Unger, Florian

Abstract

This paper introduces endogenous quality innovations in a multi-country model with heterogeneous firms. We show that quality investments lead to an additional margin of adjustment in the gravity equation. In industries with a high scope for quality differentiation, the elasticity of bilateral exports with respect to fixed costs is lower due to adjustments at the extensive margin, whereas the elasticity with respect to variable costs remains unaffected. We find robust and consistent evidence for the effect of quality differentiation on the gravity equation, using aggregate trade data and Brazilian firm-level data. We apply our model and evaluate the impact of trade policies that reduce fixed export costs. Our results highlight that trade and welfare effects are substantially lower and become much more dispersed across industries than predicted by heterogeneous firm models without quality differentiation.

Suggested Citation

  • Flach, Lisandra & Unger, Florian, 2022. "Quality and gravity in international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 137(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:inecon:v:137:y:2022:i:c:s0022199622000101
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jinteco.2022.103578
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    2. Bastos, Paulo & Silva, Joana, 2010. "The quality of a firm's exports: Where you export to matters," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 99-111, November.
    3. Flach, Lisandra & Unger, Florian, 2022. "Quality and gravity in international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 137(C).
    4. X.N. Iraki, 2018. "Is Kenya Facing East or West: An Empirical Analysis," International Business Research, Canadian Center of Science and Education, vol. 11(12), pages 134-144, December.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    International trade; Heterogeneous firms; Gravity equation; Product quality; Trade costs;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms

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