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Income inequality and the quality of imports

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  • Andrea Ciani

    (European Commission)

Abstract

This paper studies the role of income inequality in the importing country as a determinant of export unit value and product quality estimated employing information on market shares and prices. Using detailed firm-level data, we find that higher inequality in the destination market is associated with lower unit value and product quality. Noticeably, the negative effect of inequality is stronger in richer destinations. Firm-level heterogeneous responses to market conditions explain changes in unit value and quality. Incumbent exporting firms report lower unit value when income inequality increases, while entrants supply products of lower quality. All in all, our findings show that income inequality is a determinant of import demand which ultimately induces quality and unit value differentials across markets.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrea Ciani, 2021. "Income inequality and the quality of imports," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 157(2), pages 375-416, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:weltar:v:157:y:2021:i:2:d:10.1007_s10290-020-00401-2
    DOI: 10.1007/s10290-020-00401-2
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Income inequality; Unit value; Quality; Heterogeneous firms;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • D22 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Empirical Analysis
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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