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Love for Quality, Comparative Advantage, and Trade

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  • Esteban Jaimovich
  • Vincenzo Merella

Abstract

We propose a theory of trade in which comparative advantages reveal themselves gradually over the path of development. Following the Ricardian tradition, countries specialise and export the set of goods they are able to produce at relatively lower cost given their exogenous initial endowments. However, we introduce two new features into a Ricardian trade model with horizontally and vertically differentiated goods. First, individuals have nonhomothetic preferences in that their willingness to pay for quality rises with their income. Second, heterogeneities in productivity become more pronounced at higher levels of quality of production. As a result, our theory predicts that the scope for international trade widens and productive specialisation increases as real incomes grow and wealthier consumers raise the quality of their consumption baskets. Our predictions find empirical support in a number tests performed using bilateral trade data at the product level.

Suggested Citation

  • Esteban Jaimovich & Vincenzo Merella, 2011. "Love for Quality, Comparative Advantage, and Trade," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 216, Collegio Carlo Alberto, revised 2012.
  • Handle: RePEc:cca:wpaper:216
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    Cited by:

    1. Leonid Azarnert, 2014. "Agricultural Exports, Tariffs and Growth," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 25(4), pages 797-807, September.
    2. Jaimovich, Esteban & Merella, Vincenzo, 2015. "Love for quality, comparative advantage, and trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 376-391.
    3. 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.
    4. Pierre M. Picard & Alessandro Tampieri, 2016. "Income Effects and Vertical Differentiation in International Trade," DEM Discussion Paper Series 16-05, Department of Economics at the University of Luxembourg.
    5. Carlos A. Cinquetti, 2018. "Comparative Advantages and Demand in the New Competitive Ricardian Models," Foreign Trade Review, , vol. 53(1), pages 29-48, February.
    6. Azarnert, Leonid V., 2018. "Trade, Luxury Goods, And A Growth-Enhancing Tariff," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 22(6), pages 1462-1474, September.
    7. Jaimovich, Esteban, 2012. "Import diversification along the growth path," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 117(1), pages 306-310.
    8. 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.
    9. Esteban Jaimovich, 2021. "Quality growth: from process to product innovation along the path of development," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 71(2), pages 761-793, March.
    10. V. A. Salnikov & A. A. Gnidchenko & D. I. Galimov, 2016. "Industry-level effects from integration between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan through industrial cooperation," Studies on Russian Economic Development, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 101-113, January.
    11. Fedoseeva, Svetlana & Zeidan, Rodrigo, 2016. "A dead-end tunnel or the light at the end of it: The role of BRICs in European exports," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 237-248.
    12. Lashkaripour, Ahmad, 2020. "Discrete trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(C).
    13. P. M. Picard & A. Tampieri, 2021. "Vertical differentiation and trade among symmetric countries," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 71(4), pages 1319-1355, June.
    14. Schetter, Ulrich, 2016. "Comparative Advantages with Product Complexity and Product Quality," VfS Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145933, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

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    Keywords

    International Trade; Nonhomothetic Preferences; Quality Ladders;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F11 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Neoclassical Models of Trade
    • F43 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Economic Growth of Open Economies
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General

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