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Inequality, Nonhomothetic Preferences, and Trade: A Gravity Approach

  • Muhammed Dalgin
  • Devashish Mitra
  • Vitor Trindade

In this paper, we show that inequality is an important determinant of import demand, in that it augments the standard gravity model in a significant way. We interpret this result with the aid of a model in which tastes are nonhomothetic. Classification of products, based on the correlation between household budget shares in the US and income, into "luxuries" and "necessities," works very well in our analysis when we restrict the analysis to developed importing countries. While the imports of luxuries increase with the importing country's inequality, imports of necessities decrease with it. Furthermore, we find that an increase in the level of inequality in the importing country generally leads to an increase in imports from developed countries, and to a reduction in imports from low-income countries.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10800.

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Date of creation: Sep 2004
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Publication status: published as 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.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10800
Note: ITI
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  1. Redding, Stephen J. & Venables, Anthony J, 2000. "Economic Geography and International Inequality," CEPR Discussion Papers 2568, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Simon J. Evenett & Wolfgang Keller, 2002. "On Theories Explaining the Success of the Gravity Equation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(2), pages 281-316, April.
  3. Devashish Mitra & Vitor Trindade, 2005. "Inequality and trade," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 38(4), pages 1253-1271, November.
  4. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2000. "Gravity with Gravitas: A Solution to the Border Puzzle," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 485, Boston College Department of Economics.
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  13. 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 244-50, May.
  14. Harrigan, James, 1996. "Openness to trade in manufactures in the OECD," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1-2), pages 23-39, February.
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  16. Deininger, Klaus & Squire, Lyn, 1996. "A New Data Set Measuring Income Inequality," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 10(3), pages 565-91, September.
  17. Feenstra, Robert C, 2002. "Border Effects and the Gravity Equation: Consistent Methods for Estimation," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 49(5), pages 491-506, December.
  18. James A. Dunlevy, 2006. "The Influence of Corruption and Language on the Protrade Effect of Immigrants: Evidence from the American States," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(1), pages 182-186, February.
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