IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/fip/feddgw/156.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Why are goods and services more expensive in rich countries? demand complementarities and cross-country price differences

Author

Listed:
  • Daniel P. Murphy

Abstract

Empirical studies show that tradable consumption goods are more expensive in rich countries. This paper proposes a simple yet novel explanation for this apparent failure of the law of one price: Consumers’ utility from tradable goods depends on their consumption of complementary goods and services. Monopolistically competitive firms charge higher prices in countries with more complementary goods and services because consumer demand is less elastic there. The paper embeds this explanation within a static Krugman (1980)-style model of international trade featuring differentiated tradable goods. Extended versions of the model can also account for the high prices of nontradable services in rich countries. The paper provides direct evidence in support of this new explanation. Using free-alongside-ship prices of U.S. and Chinese exports, I demonstrate that prices of specific subsets of tradable goods are higher in countries with high consumption of relevant complementary goods, conditional on per capita income and other country-level determinants of consumer goods prices.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel P. Murphy, 2013. "Why are goods and services more expensive in rich countries? demand complementarities and cross-country price differences," Globalization and Monetary Policy Institute Working Paper 156, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:feddgw:156
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.dallasfed.org/assets/documents/institute/wpapers/2013/0156.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. Berthold Herrendorf & Ákos Valentinyi, 2012. "Which Sectors Make Poor Countries So Unproductive?," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(2), pages 323-341, April.
    3. Emi Nakamura & Dawit Zerom, 2010. "Accounting for Incomplete Pass-Through," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(3), pages 1192-1230.
    4. Thomas Chaney, 2008. "Distorted Gravity: The Intensive and Extensive Margins of International Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1707-1721, September.
    5. 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.
    6. Gita Gopinath & Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Chang-Tai Hsieh & Nicholas Li, 2011. "International Prices, Costs, and Markup Differences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(6), pages 2450-2486, October.
    7. Nakamura, Emi & Zerom, Dawit, 2008. "Accounting for Incomplete Pass-Through," MPRA Paper 14389, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. 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.
    9. Charles Engel, 1999. "Accounting for U.S. Real Exchange Rate Changes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(3), pages 507-538, June.
    10. Ana Cecília Fieler, 2011. "Nonhomotheticity and Bilateral Trade: Evidence and a Quantitative Explanation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 79(4), pages 1069-1101, July.
    11. Krugman, Paul, 1980. "Scale Economies, Product Differentiation, and the Pattern of Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(5), pages 950-959, December.
    12. Robert J. Barro, 1991. "Economic Growth in a Cross Section of Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 407-443.
    13. Ina Simonovska, 2015. "Income Differences and Prices of Tradables: Insights from an Online Retailer," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 82(4), pages 1612-1656.
    14. François Gourio & Leena Rudanko, 2014. "Customer Capital," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 81(3), pages 1102-1136.
    15. Markusen, James R., 2013. "Putting per-capita income back into trade theory," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(2), pages 255-265.
    16. Hallak, Juan Carlos, 2006. "Product quality and the direction of trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 238-265, January.
    17. 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.
    18. Doireann Fitzgerald & Stefanie Haller, 2014. "Pricing-to-Market: Evidence From Plant-Level Prices," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 81(2), pages 761-786.
    19. Ina Simonovska, 2009. "Income Differences and Prices of Tradables," 2009 Meeting Papers 692, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    20. Bela Balassa, 1964. "The Purchasing-Power Parity Doctrine: A Reappraisal," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 72, pages 584-584.
    21. George Alessandria & Joseph P. Kaboski, 2011. "Pricing-to-Market and the Failure of Absolute PPP," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 91-127, January.
    22. Chang-Tai Hsieh & Peter J. Klenow, 2007. "Relative Prices and Relative Prosperity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 562-585, June.
    23. Kelvin J. Lancaster, 1966. "A New Approach to Consumer Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 74, pages 132-132.
    24. Hunter, Linda, 1991. "The contribution of nonhomothetic preferences to trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(3-4), pages 345-358, May.
    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. Murphy, Daniel P., 2013. "A shopkeeper economy," Globalization and Monetary Policy Institute Working Paper 158, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Price levels ; Trade;

    JEL classification:

    • E22 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity
    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    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:fip:feddgw:156. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Amy Chapman). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/frbdaus.html .

    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 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.

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

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.