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Estimating Cross-Country Differences in Product Quality

  • Juan Carlos Hallak
  • Peter K. Schott

We develop a method for decomposing countries' observed export prices into quality versus quality-adjusted-price components using information contained in their trade balances. Holding observed export prices constant, countries with surpluses are inferred to offer higher quality than countries running deficits. Our method accounts for variation in trade balances induced by horizontal and vertical differentiation. We use our method to examine manufacturing product quality among the world's top exporters from 1989 to 2003. We find that the initial quality gap between high- and low-income countries is smaller than their initial income gap, and that the former narrows considerably faster over time.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13807.

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Date of creation: Feb 2008
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Publication status: published as Juan Carlos Hallak & Peter K. Schott, 2011. "Estimating Cross-Country Differences in Product Quality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(1), pages 417-474.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13807
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  13. Diewert, Erwin, 2007. "Index Numbers," Economics working papers diewert-07-01-03-08-17-23, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 31 Jan 2007.
  14. Aiginger, Karl, 1997. "The Use of Unit Values to Discriminate between Price and Quality Competition," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(5), pages 571-92, September.
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  16. Robert C. Feenstra, 1988. "Quality Change Under Trade Restraints in Japanese Autos," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 103(1), pages 131-146.
  17. Peter K. Schott, 2004. "Across-Product Versus Within-Product Specialization in International Trade," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(2), pages 647-678.
  18. Amit Khandelwal, 2007. "The Long and Short (of) Quality Ladders," 2007 Meeting Papers 244, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  19. Brooks, Eileen L., 2006. "Why don't firms export more? Product quality and Colombian plants," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 160-178, June.
  20. Juan Carlos Hallak & Peter K. Schott, 2008. "Estimating Cross-Country Differences in Product Quality," NBER Working Papers 13807, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Ashoka Mody & Deniz O Igan & Stefania Fabrizio, 2007. "The Dynamics of Product Quality and International Competitiveness," IMF Working Papers 07/97, International Monetary Fund.
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