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Multi-Product Firms and Product Quality

  • Kalina Manova
  • Zhiwei Zhang

This paper proposes that quality differentiation is an important feature of the operations of multi-product firms. We develop a model in which manufacturers vary product quality across their product range by using inputs of different quality levels. Firms' core competency is in varieties of superior quality that bring higher sales despite being more expensive. Using detailed customs data for China, we establish four new stylized facts consistent with this model. First, firms earn more bilateral and global revenues from their more expensive products. Second, exporters focus on their top expensive goods, drop cheaper articles and earn lower revenues in markets where they sell fewer varieties. Third, companies' sales are more skewed towards their core expensive goods in destinations where they offer less items. Finally, export prices are positively correlated with input prices across products within a firm. Our results have important implications for the aggregate and distributional effects of trade reforms and exchange rate movements.

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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
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18637
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  1. Richard Baldwin & James Harrigan, 2007. "Zeros, Quality and Space: Trade Theory and Trade Evidence," NBER Working Papers 13214, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Costas Arkolakis & Arnaud Costinot & Andrés Rodríguez-Clare, 2009. "New Trade Models, Same Old Gains?," NBER Working Papers 15628, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  7. 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.
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  12. Thierry Mayer & Marc J. Melitz & Gianmarco Ottaviano, 2014. "Market Size, Competition, and the Product Mix of Exporters," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/6g0gsihsjmn, Sciences Po.
  13. Beata Javorcik & Peter Neary & Carsten Eckel and Leonardo Iacovone, 2010. "Multi-product firms at home and away: Cost- versus quality-based competence," Economics Series Working Papers 522, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
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  15. Jan De Loecker, 2014. "Price, Markups and Trade Reforms," Working Papers id:5900, eSocialSciences.
  16. Johnson, Robert C., 2012. "Trade and prices with heterogeneous firms," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(1), pages 43-56.
  17. Kalina Manova & Zhiwei Zhang, 2008. "China's exporters and importers: firms, products, and trade partners," Working Paper Series 2008-28, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  18. Arpita Chatterjee & Rafael Dix-Carneiro & Jade Vichyanond, 2013. "Multi-product Firms and Exchange Rate Fluctuations," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 77-110, May.
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  20. Timothy Dunne & J. Bradford Jensen & Mark J. Roberts, 2009. "Producer Dynamics: New Evidence from Micro Data," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number dunn05-1, 08.
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  26. Gita Gopinath & Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Chang-Tai Hsieh & Nicholas Li, 2011. "International Prices, Costs, and Markup Differences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(6), pages 2450-86, October.
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  29. 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.
  30. Kalina Manova & Zhiwei Zhang, 2012. "Export Prices Across Firms and Destinations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(1), pages 379-436.
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