Explaining import quality: The role of the income distribution
We examine a generalized version of Flam and Helpman [Flam, H., Helpman, E., 1987. Vertical Product Differentiation and North-South Trade. American Economic Review, 77, 810-822.] in which consumption prices for quality differentiated goods are rising in household income. We provide propositions for aggregating this relationship across heterogenous households to map cross-country differences in income distributions to cross-country differences in import price distributions. The theoretical predictions are examined and confirmed using disaggregated data on prices of traded goods and micro data on household income from the Luxemburg Income Study. Country pairs with more similar income distributions have more similar import price distributions, whether similarity is measured by 1st-4th moment statistics, population and consumption shares within world income and product price quantiles, or income and price dis-similarity indices.
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