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Understanding Long-run Price Dispersion

  • Mario J. Crucini
  • Hakan Yilmazkuday

We use a unique panel of retail prices spanning 123 cities in 79 countries from 1990 to 2005, to uncover six novel properties of long-run international price dispersion. First, at the PPP level, virtually all (91.6%) of price dispersion is attributed to service-sector wages, consistent with a dominant role of the retail distribution margin. Second, at the level of individual goods and services, the average contribution of service-sector wages is significantly reduced, one-third as large (31.9%). This reflects the fact that good-specific sources of price dispersion, such as trade costs and good-specific markups, tend to average out across goods. Third, at the LOP level, borders and distance contribute about equally to price dispersion with distance elasticities consistent with the existing trade gravity literature which links trade volumes (rather than relative prices) to borders and distance. Fourth, in the cross-section, price dispersion is rising in the distribution share consistent with the notion that baby-sitting services and haircuts embody local wages to a far greater extent than highly traded manufactured goods. Fifth, we provide the first estimates of distribution margins at the micro-level and show them to be very different across goods and substantial in the aggregate, where they account for about 55% of consumption expenditure. Sixth, these estimates are broadly consistent with more aggregated U.S. NIPA measures currently used in the literature.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18811.

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Date of creation: Feb 2013
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Publication status: published as Crucini, Mario J. & Yilmazkuday, Hakan, 2014. "Understanding long-run price dispersion," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 226-240.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18811
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  1. Ariel T. Burstein & Joao C. Neves & Sergio Rebelo, 2000. "Distribution Costs and Real Exchange Rate Dynamics During Exchange-Rate-Based-Stabilizations," NBER Working Papers 7862, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Mario J. Crucini & Anthony Landry, 2012. "Accounting for Real Exchange Rates Using Micro-data," NBER Working Papers 17812, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Mario J. Crucini & Hakan Yilmazkuday, 2009. "A Model of International Cities: Implications for Real Exchange Rates," NBER Working Papers 14834, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Charles Engel & John H. Rogers, 1995. "How wide is the border?," International Finance Discussion Papers 498, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  5. Ariel Burstein & Martin Eichenbaum & Sergio Rebelo, 2005. "Modeling Exchange Rate Passthrough After Large Devaluations," RCER Working Papers 514, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  6. Bela Balassa, 1964. "The Purchasing-Power Parity Doctrine: A Reappraisal," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 72, pages 584.
  7. Berthold Herrendorf & Akos Valentinyi, 2005. "Which Sectors Make the Poor Countries so Unproductive?," IEHAS Discussion Papers 0519, Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
  8. Ariel Burstein & Martin Eichenbaum & Sergio Rebelo, 2004. "Large Devaluations and the Real Exchange Rate," NBER Working Papers 10986, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. George Alessandria & Joseph P. Kaboski, 2011. "Pricing-to-Market and the Failure of Absolute PPP," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 91-127, January.
  10. Mario J. Crucini & Chris I. Telmer & Marios Zachariadis, 2001. "Understanding European Real Exchange Rates," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0120, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  11. Mario J. Crucini & Mototsugu Shintani, 2006. "Persistence in Law-Of-One-Price Deviations: Evidence from Micro-Data," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0616, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  12. Mario J. Crucini & Christopher I. Telmer, 2012. "Microeconomic Sources of Real Exchange Rate Variability," NBER Working Papers 17978, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Peter Kennedy, 2003. "A Guide to Econometrics, 5th Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 5, volume 1, number 026261183x, June.
  14. George Alessandria, 2004. "International Deviations From The Law Of One Price: The Role Of Search Frictions And Market Share," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(4), pages 1263-1291, November.
  15. Sanyal, Kalyan K & Jones, Ronald W, 1982. "The Theory of Trade in Middle Products," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(1), pages 16-31, March.
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