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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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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18314
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  1. 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.
  2. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum & Francis Kramarz, 2011. "An Anatomy of International Trade: Evidence From French Firms," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 79(5), pages 1453-1498, 09.
  3. Angus Deaton & Alan Heston, 2009. "Understanding PPPs and PPP-based national accounts," Working Papers 1186, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
  4. Bekkers, Eddy & Francois, Joseph & Manchin, Miriam, 2012. "Import prices, income, and inequality," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 848-869.
  5. Bilbiie, Florin Ovidiu & Ghironi, Fabio & Melitz, Marc J, 2011. "Endogenous Entry, Product Variety, and Business Cycles," CEPR Discussion Papers 8564, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Stephen Redding & Anthony J. Venables, 2001. "Economic Geography and International Inequality," CEP Discussion Papers dp0495, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  7. 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.
  8. Crozet, Matthieu & Head, Keith & Mayer, Thierry, 2009. "Quality Sorting And Trade: Firm-Level Evidence For French Wine," Working Papers 53883, American Association of Wine Economists.
  9. Simonovska, Ina & Waugh, Michael E., 2014. "The elasticity of trade: Estimates and evidence," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1), pages 34-50.
  10. Ina Simonovska, 2011. "Income Differences and Prices of Tradables," Working Papers 1015, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  11. Baldwin, Richard & Ito, Tadashi, 2008. "Quality Competition Versus Price Competition Goods: An Empirical Classification," CEPR Discussion Papers 6952, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Baldwin, Richard & Harrigan, James, 2007. "Zeros, Quality and Space: Trade Theory and Trade Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 6368, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Irving Kravis & Robert E. Lipsey, 1974. "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.
  14. Diewert, W Erwin, 1978. "Superlative Index Numbers and Consistency in Aggregation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(4), pages 883-900, July.
  15. 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.).
  16. 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.
  17. Florin Bilbiie & Fabio Ghironi & Marc Melitz, 2012. "Endogenous Entry, Product Variety and Business Cycles," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-00680634, HAL.
  18. Mary Amiti & Amit K. Khandelwal, 2009. "Import Competition and Quality Upgrading," NBER Working Papers 15503, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Michael Waugh & Ina Simonovska, 2012. "Different Trade Models, Different Trade Elasticities?," 2012 Meeting Papers 618, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  20. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2002. "Technology, Geography, and Trade," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(5), pages 1741-1779, September.
  21. Costas Arkolakis, 2008. "Market Penetration Costs and the New Consumers Margin in International Trade," NBER Working Papers 14214, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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