IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/spr/weltar/v157y2021i2d10.1007_s10290-020-00401-2.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Income inequality and the quality of imports

Author

Listed:
  • 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
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://link.springer.com/10.1007/s10290-020-00401-2
    File Function: Abstract
    Download Restriction: Access to the full text of the articles in this series is restricted.

    File URL: https://libkey.io/10.1007/s10290-020-00401-2?utm_source=ideas
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Stephen J. Redding & Peter K. Schott, 2007. "Firms in International Trade," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(3), pages 105-130, Summer.
    2. Mary Amiti & Oleg Itskhoki & Jozef Konings, 2014. "Importers, Exporters, and Exchange Rate Disconnect," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(7), pages 1942-1978, July.
    3. Kirill Borusyak & Xavier Jaravel, 2018. "The Distributional Effects of Trade: Theory and Evidence from the United States," 2018 Meeting Papers 284, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    4. Latzer, Hélène & Mayneris, Florian, 2021. "Average income, income inequality and export unit values," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 185(C), pages 625-646.
    5. Devashish Mitra & Vitor Trindade, 2005. "Inequality and trade," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 38(4), pages 1253-1271, November.
    6. Martin, Julien, 2012. "Markups, quality, and transport costs," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 777-791.
    7. David Hummels & Volodymyr Lugovskyy, 2009. "International Pricing in a Generalized Model of Ideal Variety," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 41(s1), pages 3-33, February.
    8. Eric A. Verhoogen, 2008. "Trade, Quality Upgrading, and Wage Inequality in the Mexican Manufacturing Sector," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(2), pages 489-530.
    9. Broda, Christian & Greenfield, Joshua & Weinstein, David E., 2017. "From groundnuts to globalization: A structural estimate of trade and growth," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(4), pages 759-783.
    10. Rosario Crinò & Paolo Epifani, 2012. "Productivity, Quality and Export Behaviour," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(565), pages 1206-1243, December.
    11. repec:clu:wpaper:0708-12 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Amit Khandelwal, 2010. "The Long and Short (of) Quality Ladders," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(4), pages 1450-1476.
    13. Lisandra Flach & Eckhard Janeba, 2017. "Income inequality and export prices across countries," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 50(1), pages 162-200, February.
    14. Kalina Manova & Zhiwei Zhang, 2012. "Export Prices Across Firms and Destinations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(1), pages 379-436.
    15. Gorodnichenko, Yuriy & Svejnar, Jan & Terrell, Katherine, 2014. "When does FDI have positive spillovers? Evidence from 17 transition market economies," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 954-969.
    16. Pablo Fajgelbaum & Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 2011. "Income Distribution, Product Quality, and International Trade," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(4), pages 721-765.
    17. Timothy Besley & Robin Burgess, 2002. "The Political Economy of Government Responsiveness: Theory and Evidence from India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1415-1451.
    18. Yeaple, Stephen Ross, 2005. "A simple model of firm heterogeneity, international trade, and wages," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 1-20, January.
    19. Benjamin Faber & Thibault Fally, 2022. "Firm Heterogeneity in Consumption Baskets: Evidence from Home and Store Scanner Data [Measuring Trends in Leisure: The Allocation of Time over Five Decades]," The Review of Economic Studies, Review of Economic Studies Ltd, vol. 89(3), pages 1420-1459.
    20. Irene Brambilla & Daniel Lederman & Guido Porto, 2012. "Exports, Export Destinations, and Skills," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(7), pages 3406-3438, December.
    21. Mark Bils & Peter J. Klenow, 2001. "Quantifying Quality Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 1006-1030, September.
    22. David Hummels & Alexandre Skiba, 2004. "Shipping the Good Apples Out? An Empirical Confirmation of the Alchian-Allen Conjecture," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(6), pages 1384-1402, December.
    23. Bekkers, Eddy & Francois, Joseph & Manchin, Miriam, 2012. "Import prices, income, and inequality," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 848-869.
    24. Era Dabla-Norris & Kalpana Kochhar & Nujin Suphaphiphat & Franto Ricka & Evridiki Tsounta, 2015. "Causes and Consequences of Income Inequality; A Global Perspective," IMF Staff Discussion Notes 15/13, International Monetary Fund.
    25. Rauch, James E., 1999. "Networks versus markets in international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 7-35, June.
    26. Ina Simonovska, 2015. "Income Differences and Prices of Tradables: Insights from an Online Retailer," The Review of Economic Studies, Review of Economic Studies Ltd, vol. 82(4), pages 1612-1656.
    27. Richard Baldwin & James Harrigan, 2011. "Zeros, Quality, and Space: Trade Theory and Trade Evidence," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 60-88, May.
    28. Martin, Julien & Mayneris, Florian, 2015. "High-end variety exporters defying gravity: Micro facts and aggregate implications," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(1), pages 55-71.
    29. Konstantins Benkovskis & Ramune Rimgailaite, 2011. "The quality and variety of exports from the new EU member states," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 19(4), pages 723-747, October.
    30. Muhammed Dalgin & Vitor Trindade & Devashish Mitra, 2008. "Inequality, Nonhomothetic Preferences, and Trade: A Gravity Approach," Southern Economic Journal, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 74(3), pages 747-774, January.
    31. Paolo Bertoletti & Federico Etro & Ina Simonovska, 2018. "International Trade with Indirect Additivity," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 10(2), pages 1-57, May.
    32. Pinelopi K. Goldberg & Nina Pavcnik, 2016. "The Effects of Trade Policy," NBER Working Papers 21957, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    33. Fernandes, Ana M. & Freund, Caroline & Pierola, Martha Denisse, 2016. "Exporter behavior, country size and stage of development: Evidence from the exporter dynamics database," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 121-137.
    34. Juan Carlos Hallak, 2010. "A Product-Quality View of the Linder Hypothesis," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(3), pages 453-466, August.
    35. Lisandra Flach & Eckhard Janeba, 2017. "Income inequality and export prices across countries," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 50(1), pages 162-200, February.
    36. Attanasio, Orazio & Goldberg, Pinelopi K. & Pavcnik, Nina, 2004. "Trade reforms and wage inequality in Colombia," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(2), pages 331-366, August.
    37. Robert C. Feenstra & John Romalis, 2014. "International Prices and Endogenous Quality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 129(2), pages 477-527.
    38. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Stephen J. Redding & Peter K. Schott, 2012. "The Empirics of Firm Heterogeneity and International Trade," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 4(1), pages 283-313, July.
    39. Esteban Jaimovich & Vincenzo Merella, 2012. "Quality Ladders In A Ricardian Model Of Trade With Nonhomothetic Preferences," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 908-937, August.
    40. Pablo D. Fajgelbaum, 2011. "Income Distribution, Product Quality and International Trade," 2011 Meeting Papers 415, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    41. Amit K. Khandelwal & Peter K. Schott & Shang-Jin Wei, 2013. "Trade Liberalization and Embedded Institutional Reform: Evidence from Chinese Exporters," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(6), pages 2169-2195, October.
    42. Maurice Kugler & Eric Verhoogen, 2012. "Prices, Plant Size, and Product Quality," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(1), pages 307-339.
    43. David Hummels & Peter J. Klenow, 2005. "The Variety and Quality of a Nation's Exports," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 704-723, June.
    44. Peter K. Schott, 2004. "Across-Product Versus Within-Product Specialization in International Trade," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 119(2), pages 647-678.
    45. Joel Rodrigue & Yong Tan, 2019. "Price, Product Quality, And Exporter Dynamics: Evidence From China," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 60(4), pages 1911-1955, November.
    46. Bernini, Michele & Tomasi, Chiara, 2015. "Exchange rate pass-through and product heterogeneity: Does quality matter on the import side?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 117-138.
    47. Klaus Desmet & Stephen L. Parente, 2010. "Bigger Is Better: Market Size, Demand Elasticity, And Innovation," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 51(2), pages 319-333, May.
    48. Chen, Shaohua & Ravallion, Martin, 2007. "Absolute poverty measures for the developing world, 1981-2004," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4211, The World Bank.
    49. Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg & Nina Pavcnik, 2007. "Distributional Effects of Globalization in Developing Countries," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(1), pages 39-82, March.
    50. Kiminori Matsuyama, 2000. "A Ricardian Model with a Continuum of Goods under Nonhomothetic Preferences: Demand Complementarities, Income Distribution, and North-South Trade," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(6), pages 1093-1120, December.
    51. Jonathan I. Dingel, 2017. "The Determinants of Quality Specialization," The Review of Economic Studies, Review of Economic Studies Ltd, vol. 84(4), pages 1551-1582.
    52. Hallak, Juan Carlos, 2006. "Product quality and the direction of trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 238-265, January.
    53. Ms. Era Dabla-Norris & Ms. Kalpana Kochhar & Mrs. Nujin Suphaphiphat & Mr. Franto Ricka & Ms. Evridiki Tsounta, 2015. "Causes and Consequences of Income Inequality: A Global Perspective," IMF Staff Discussion Notes 2015/013, International Monetary Fund.
    54. Gaulier, Guillaume & Zignago, Soledad, 2004. "Notes on BACI (analytical database of international trade). 1989-2002 version," MPRA Paper 32401, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    55. Petrova, Maria, 2008. "Inequality and media capture," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1-2), pages 183-212, February.
    56. Ritva Reinikka & Jakob Svensson, 2005. "Fighting Corruption to Improve Schooling: Evidence from a Newspaper Campaign in Uganda," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 259-267, 04/05.
    57. Costas Arkolakis, 2010. "Market Penetration Costs and the New Consumers Margin in International Trade," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(6), pages 1151-1199.
    58. Flam, Harry & Helpman, Elhanan, 1987. "Vertical Product Differentiation and North-South Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 810-822, December.
    59. Francois, Joseph F & Kaplan, Seth, 1996. "Aggregate Demand Shifts, Income Distribution, and the Linder Hypothesis," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(2), pages 244-250, May.
    60. Ardelean, Adina & Lugovskyy, Volodymyr, 2019. "Tariffs, product quality, and the relative prices of durables: Evidence from 1989 to 2009 U.S. microdata," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 54-75.
    61. Choi, Yo Chul & Hummels, David & Xiang, Chong, 2009. "Explaining import quality: The role of the income distribution," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(2), pages 293-303, July.
    62. Steven T. Berry, 1994. "Estimating Discrete-Choice Models of Product Differentiation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(2), pages 242-262, Summer.
    63. Flach, Lisandra, 2016. "Quality upgrading and price heterogeneity: Evidence from Brazilian exporters," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 282-290.
    64. Juan Carlos Hallak & Peter K. Schott, 2011. "Estimating Cross-Country Differences in Product Quality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 126(1), pages 417-474.
    65. Flach, Lisandra, 2016. "Quality upgrading and price heterogeneity: Evidence from Brazilian exporters," Munich Reprints in Economics 43480, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Latzer, Hélène & Mayneris, Florian, 2021. "Average income, income inequality and export unit values," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 185(C), pages 625-646.
    2. Anna Goeddeke & Justus Haucap & Annika Herr & Christian Wey, 2018. "Flexibility in Wage Setting Under the Threat of Relocation," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 32(1), pages 1-22, March.
    3. He, Dongwei & Wang, Yunfei & You, Kai, 2023. "Market entry and the dynamics of export product quality: Evidence from Chinese manufacturing firms," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 692-706.
    4. Rufaro Garidzirai, 2020. "The Contribution of Agricultural Production on Selected Sustainable Development Goals in the BRICS: A Panel Analysis," Eurasian Journal of Economics and Finance, Eurasian Publications, vol. 8(3), pages 154-167.
    5. Wenshou Yan & Yan Cai & Xuan Guo, 2023. "How can trade partners be chosen when facing food scandals? China's milk scandal as a natural experiment," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 67(4), pages 603-635, October.
    6. Zuhal Ozbay Das, 2021. "Inequality and the Import Demand in Turkey," Istanbul Journal of Economics-Istanbul Iktisat Dergisi, Istanbul University, Faculty of Economics, vol. 71(71-2), pages 395-410, December.
    7. Brunner, Daniel & Heiss, Florian & Romahn, André & Weiser, Constantin, 2017. "Reliable estimation of random coefficient logit demand models," DICE Discussion Papers 267, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
    8. Miao, Zhuang & Li, Yifan & Duan, Sisong, 2020. "Income inequality of destination countries and trade patterns: Evidence from Chinese firm-level data," MPRA Paper 99441, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Kexuan Zhou & Sanjay Kumar & Futao Lu & Qiaoyun Fang & Linhui Yu, 2022. "Has the Belt and Road Initiative Improved the Quality of Food Imported by Chinese Enterprises?," China & World Economy, Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, vol. 30(2), pages 60-83, March.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Lisandra Flach & Eckhard Janeba, 2017. "Income inequality and export prices across countries," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 50(1), pages 162-200, February.
    2. Latzer, Hélène & Mayneris, Florian, 2021. "Average income, income inequality and export unit values," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 185(C), pages 625-646.
    3. Jaimovich, Esteban & Merella, Vincenzo, 2015. "Love for quality, comparative advantage, and trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 376-391.
    4. Chen, Natalie & Juvenal, Luciana, 2018. "Quality and the Great Trade Collapse," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 135(C), pages 59-76.
    5. Štefan Bojnec & Imre Fertő, 2017. "Quality Upgrades of EU Agri-Food Exports," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(1), pages 269-279, February.
    6. Chen, Natalie & Juvenal, Luciana, 2016. "Quality, trade, and exchange rate pass-through," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 61-80.
    7. Curzi, Daniele & Pacca, Lucia, 2015. "Price, quality and trade costs in the food sector," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 147-158.
    8. 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.
    9. Chen, Natalie & Juvenal, Luciana, 2022. "Markups, quality, and trade costs," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 137(C).
    10. Jonathan I. Dingel, 2017. "The Determinants of Quality Specialization," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(4), pages 1551-1582.
    11. Lashkaripour, Ahmad, 2020. "Discrete trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(C).
    12. Alcalá, Francisco, 2016. "Specialization across goods and export quality," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 216-232.
    13. Vincenzo Merella & Josef Tauser, 2022. "Import Quality in Former Centrally Planned EU Countries," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 684 JEL Classification: F, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
    14. Brambilla, Irene & Porto, Guido G., 2016. "High-income export destinations, quality and wages," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 21-35.
    15. Flach, Lisandra & Unger, Florian, 2022. "Quality and gravity in international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 137(C).
    16. Irene Brambilla & Nicolas Depetris Chauvin & Guido Porto, 2015. "Wage and Employment Gains from Exports: Evidence from Developing Countries," Working Papers 2015-28, CEPII research center.
    17. Crinò, Rosario & Ogliari, Laura, 2017. "Financial imperfections, product quality, and international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 63-84.
    18. A. Auer, Raphael & Chaney, Thomas & Sauré, Philip, 2018. "Quality pricing-to-market," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 87-102.
    19. Crinò, Rosario & Ogliari, Laura, 2015. "Financial Frictions, Product Quality, and International Trade," CEPR Discussion Papers 10555, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    20. Bas, Maria & Strauss-Kahn, Vanessa, 2015. "Input-trade liberalization, export prices and quality upgrading," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(2), pages 250-262.

    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

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:spr:weltar:v:157:y:2021:i:2:d:10.1007_s10290-020-00401-2. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Sonal Shukla or Springer Nature Abstracting and Indexing (email available below). General contact details of provider: http://www.springer.com .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.