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International Prices and Endogenous Quality

  • Robert C. Feenstra
  • John Romalis

The unit values of internationally traded goods are heavily influenced by quality. We model this in an extended monopolistic competition framework where, in addition to choosing price, firms simultaneously choose quality. We allow countries to have non-homothetic demand for quality. The optimal choice of quality by firms reflects this non-homothetic demand as well as the costs of production, including specific transport costs, under the "Washington apples" effect. We estimate the implied gravity equation using detailed bilateral trade data for about 200 countries over 1984-2008. Our system identifies quality and quality-adjusted prices, from which we will construct price indexes for imports and exports for each country that will be incorporated into the next generation of the Penn World Table.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18314.

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Date of creation: Aug 2012
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Publication status: published as Article: Robert C. Feenstra and John Romalis International Prices and Endogenous Quality* The Quarterly Journal of Economics first published online February 5, 2014 doi:10.1093/qje/qju001
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18314
Note: ITI
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  1. Ina Simonovska & Michael E. Waugh, 2011. "The Elasticity of Trade: Estimates and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 16796, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Fajgelbaum, Pablo & Grossman, Gene M. & Helpman, Elhanan, 2011. "Income distribution, product quality, and international trade," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5843, The World Bank.
  3. Stephen Redding & Anthony J. Venables, 2001. "Economic Geography and International Inequality," International Trade 0103003, EconWPA.
  4. Simonovska, Ina; Waugh, Michael E., 2010. "The Elasticity of Trade: Estimates & Evidence," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 13, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  5. E. Baldwin, Richard & Ito, Tadashi, 2011. "Quality Competition Versus Price Competition Goods: An Empirical Classification," Journal of Economic Integration, Center for Economic Integration, Sejong University, vol. 26, pages 110-135.
  6. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum & Francis Kramarz, 2008. "An Anatomy of International Trade: Evidence from French Firms," NBER Working Papers 14610, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Matthieu Crozet & Keith Head & Thierry Mayer, 2012. "Quality Sorting and Trade: Firm-level Evidence for French Wine," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(2), pages 609-644.
  8. Angus Deaton & Alan Heston, 2010. "Understanding PPPs and PPP-Based National Accounts," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 1-35, October.
  9. Baldwin, Richard & Harrigan, James, 2007. "Zeros, Quality and Space: Trade Theory and Trade Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 6368, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Bekkers, Eddy & Francois, Joseph & Manchin, Miriam, 2012. "Import Prices, Income, and Inequality," CEPR Discussion Papers 8911, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Ina Simonovska, 2010. "Income differences and prices of tradables," Globalization and Monetary Policy Institute Working Paper 55, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  12. Costas Arkolakis, 2008. "Market Penetration Costs and the New Consumers Margin in International Trade," NBER Working Papers 14214, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Robert C. Feenstra & John Romalis & Peter K. Schott, 2002. "U.S. Imports, Exports, and Tariff Data, 1989-2001," NBER Working Papers 9387, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Bilbiie, Florin O. & Ghironi, Fabio & Melitz, Marc J., 2012. "Endogenous Entry, Product Variety, and Business Cycles," Scholarly Articles 10914281, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  15. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2002. "Technology, Geography, and Trade," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(5), pages 1741-1779, September.
  16. Peter K. Schott, 2004. "Across-product Versus Within-product Specialization in International Trade," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(2), pages 646-677, May.
  17. Irving B. Kravis & Robert E. Lipsey, 1975. "International Trade Prices and Price Proxies," NBER Chapters, in: The Role of the Computer in Economic and Social Research in Latin America, pages 253-268 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Mary Amiti & Amit K. Khandelwal, 2009. "Import Competition and Quality Upgrading," NBER Working Papers 15503, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Ina Simonovska & Michael E. Waugh, 2014. "Trade Models, Trade Elasticities, and the Gains from Trade," NBER Working Papers 20495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Diewert, W Erwin, 1978. "Superlative Index Numbers and Consistency in Aggregation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(4), pages 883-900, July.
  21. Benjamin R. Mandel, 2010. "Heterogeneous firms and import quality: evidence from transaction-level prices," International Finance Discussion Papers 991, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  22. Ina Simonovska, 2010. "Income Differences and Prices of Tradables: Insights from an Online Retailer," NBER Working Papers 16233, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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