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Tariff Pass-Through, Firm Heterogeneity and Product Quality

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  • Zhi George Yu

Abstract

Previous studies on tariff pass-through were constrained at the industry level. This paper is the first attempt to explore tariff pass-through at the firm level, and to investigate how it depends on firm heterogeneity in productivity and product differentiation in quality. Using an extended version of the Melitz and Ottaviano (2008) model, I show that exporting firms absorb tariff changes by adjusting both their markups and product quality, which leads to an incomplete tariff pass-through. Moreover, tariff absorption elasticity negatively depends on firm productivity for quality differentiated goods, but positively depends on firm productivity for quality homogeneous goods. Using the U.S. transaction level export data and plant-level manufacturing data, I find evidence for these predictions. The firm-level tariff absorption elasticity is 0.87 on average. All products in the sample on average fit the definition of quality differentiated goods, and the tariff absorption elasticity is indeed higher for low productivity firms (1.27) and lower for high productivity firms (0.44). Dividing all products into quality homogeneous goods and quality differentiated goods in terms of various criteria also results in estimates consistent with model predictions for quality differentiated goods.

Suggested Citation

  • Zhi George Yu, 2010. "Tariff Pass-Through, Firm Heterogeneity and Product Quality," Working Papers 10-37, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:10-37
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    File URL: https://www2.census.gov/ces/wp/2010/CES-WP-10-37.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Marc J. Melitz, 2003. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(6), pages 1695-1725, November.
    2. Marc J. Melitz & Giancarlo I. P. Ottaviano, 2021. "Market Size, Trade, and Productivity," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: Firms and Workers in a Globalized World Larger Markets, Tougher Competition, chapter 4, pages 87-108, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
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    Cited by:

    1. Rollo, Valentina, 2012. "Determinants of Tanzanian export prices," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6225, The World Bank.

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