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Multi-Product Firms and Product Quality

Listed author(s):
  • Kalina Manova
  • Zhiwei Zhang

We examine the global operations of multi-product firms. We present a flexible heterogeneous-firm trade model with either limited or strong scope for quality differentiation. Using customs data for China during 2002-2006, we empirically establish that firms allocate activity across products in line with a product hierarchy based on quality. Firms vary output quality across their products by using inputs of different quality levels. Their core competence is in varieties of superior quality that command higher prices but nevertheless generate higher sales. In markets where they offer fewer products, firms concentrate on their core varieties by dropping low-quality peripheral goods on the extensive margin and by shifting sales towards top-quality products on the intensive margin. The product quality ladder also governs firms ’ export dynamics, both in general and in response to the exogenous removal of MFA quotas on textiles and apparel. Our results inform the drivers and measurement of firm performance, the effects of trade reforms, and the design of development policies.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w18637.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18637.

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Date of creation: Dec 2012
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18637
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  1. Thierry Mayer & Marc J. Melitz & Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano, 2010. "Market size, competition and the product mix of exporters," Working Paper Research 202, National Bank of Belgium.
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  13. Matthieu Crozet & Keith Head & Thierry Mayer, 2009. "Quality Sorting and Trade: Firm-Level Evidence for French Wine," Working Papers 2009-14, CEPII research center.
  14. Costas Arkolakis & Marc-Andreas Muendler, 2010. "The Extensive Margin of Exporting Products: A Firm-level Analysis," CESifo Working Paper Series 3309, CESifo Group Munich.
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  19. Eckel, Carsten & Iacovone, Leonardo & Javorcik, Beata & Neary, J Peter, 2011. "Multi-Product Firms at Home and Away: Cost- versus Quality-based Competence," CEPR Discussion Papers 8186, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  24. Eric A. Verhoogen, 2008. "Trade, Quality Upgrading, and Wage Inequality in the Mexican Manufacturing Sector," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(2), pages 489-530.
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  29. Timothy Dunne & J. Bradford Jensen & Mark J. Roberts, 2009. "Introduction to "Producer Dynamics: New Evidence from Micro Data"," NBER Chapters, in: Producer Dynamics: New Evidence from Micro Data, pages 1-12 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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