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Surviving the U.S. Import Market: The Role of Product Differentiation

  • Tibor Besedes
  • Thomas J. Prusa

We examine the extent that product differentiation affects the duration of US import trade relationships. Applying nonparametric and semiparametric techniques to highly disaggregated product-level data we estimate that the hazard rate is at least 18 percent higher for homogenous goods than for differentiated products. Put another way, the median survival time for trade relationships involving differentiated products is five years as compared to two years for homogenous products. We find that our results are not only highly robust but often are strengthened under alternative specifications. For instance, if we define trade relationships using industry-level rather than product-level data we find that the hazard rate is 30-35 percent higher for homogenous goods than for differentiated products. We also find that the survival ranking across product types holds across individual industries. We show that dropping the smallest trade relationships further accentuates the differences among product types. We also control for the possible measurement error in measuring spell lengths and the role of multiple spell relationships and find that in all cases the differences among products types are greater than in our benchmark analysis.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10319.

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Date of creation: Feb 2004
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10319
Note: ITI
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  1. Baldwin, Richard, 1988. "Hyteresis in Import Prices: The Beachhead Effect," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 773-85, September.
  2. Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1975. "Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 64, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  3. Debeare, Peter, 2003. "Relative Factor Abundance and Trade," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(3), pages 589-610, June.
  4. Muhammed Dalgin & Vitor Trindade & Devashish Mitra, 2008. "Inequality, Nonhomothetic Preferences, and Trade: A Gravity Approach," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 747-774, January.
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  7. Steven C. Salop, 1979. "Monopolistic Competition with Outside Goods," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 141-156, Spring.
  8. Mark J. Melitz, 2002. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," NBER Working Papers 8881, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Tibor Besedes & Thomas J. Prusa, 2003. "On the Duration of Trade," NBER Working Papers 9936, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Hummels, D. & Levinsohn, J., 1993. "Monopolistic Competition and International Trade: Reconsidering the Evidence," Working Papers 339, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
  11. James E. Rauch, 1996. "Trade and Search: Social Capital, Sogo Shosha, and Spillovers," NBER Working Papers 5618, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Krugman, Paul, 1980. "Scale Economies, Product Differentiation, and the Pattern of Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(5), pages 950-59, December.
  13. James E. Rauch, 2001. "Business and Social Networks in International Trade," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(4), pages 1177-1203, December.
  14. James E. Rauch & Vitor Trindade, 1999. "Ethnic Chinese Networks in International Trade," NBER Working Papers 7189, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Peter K. Schott, 2001. "Do Countries Specialize?," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm173, Yale School of Management.
  16. Helpman, Elhanan, 1987. "Imperfect competition and international trade: Evidence from fourteen industrial countries," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 62-81, March.
  17. Rauch, James E., 1999. "Networks versus markets in international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 7-35, June.
  18. James E. Rauch & Alessandra Casella, 2003. "Overcoming Informational Barriers to International Resource Allocation: Prices and Ties," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(484), pages 21-42, January.
  19. J. Peter Neary, 2000. "Monopolistic Competition and International Trade Theory," Working Papers 200025, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
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