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Do Rich and Poor Countries Specialize in a Different Mix of Goods? Evidence from Product-Level US Trade Data

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  • Peter K. Schott

Abstract

Unit values of US imports at the product level reveal a substantial degree of vertical product differentiation among countries exporting to the US. This specialization is not apparent by looking solely at trade flows. Two trends stand out. First, the portion of US import products originating in either rich or poor countries exclusively has fallen dramatically as US trade barriers have fallen, from 41% in 1972 to 17% in 1994. Indeed, by 1994, nearly three quarters the products imported into the US were sourced simultaneously from rich and poor countries. Second, within-product unit value dispersion is positively and significantly correlated with source country income: men's shirts imported from Japan in 1994, for example, are about thirty times as expensive as shirts originating in the Philippines. These unit value premia, and their increase over time, are consistent with the factor proportions framework but convey a stark warning: industry trade flow data alone are too coarse to meet the assumptions underlying most tests of trade theory.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter K. Schott, 2001. "Do Rich and Poor Countries Specialize in a Different Mix of Goods? Evidence from Product-Level US Trade Data," NBER Working Papers 8492, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8492
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    Cited by:

    1. Bernard, Andrew B. & Redding, Stephen J. & Schott, Peter K. & Simpson, Helen, 2002. "Factor Price Equalization in the UK?," CEPR Discussion Papers 3523, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Malley, Jim & Moutos, Thomas, 2006. "Do excessive wage increases raise imports?: Theory and evidence," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 194-220, March.
    3. Deborah Swenson, 2005. "Outsourcing Price Decisions: Evidence from U.S. 9802 Imports," NBER Working Papers 11184, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Daniel Trefler, 2004. "The Long and Short of the Canada-U. S. Free Trade Agreement," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 870-895, September.
    5. Joachim Stibora & Albert de Vaal, 2015. "Does Preferential Trade Benefit Poor Countries? A General Equilibrium Assessment with Nonhomothetic Preferences," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 23(2), pages 239-270, May.
    6. David Hummels & Peter J. Klenow, 2002. "The Variety and Quality of a Nation's Trade," NBER Working Papers 8712, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Huiwen Lai & Daniel Trefler, 2002. "The Gains from Trade with Monopolistic Competition: Specification, Estimation, and Mis-Specification," NBER Working Papers 9169, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Carsten Fink & Beata Smarzynska Javorcik & Mariana Spatareanu, 2005. "Income-Related Biases in International Trade: What Do Trademark Registration Data Tell Us?," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 141(1), pages 79-103, April.
    9. Antonis Adam & Thomas Moutos, 2002. "The Political Economy of EU Enlargement: Or, Why Japan is not a Candidate Country?," CESifo Working Paper Series 704, CESifo Group Munich.
    10. Eric Rasmusen, 2007. "A Reputation Model of Quality in North-South Trade," Working Papers 2007-06, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
    11. Irac, D., 2008. "Access to new imported varieties and total factor productivity: Firm level evidence from France," Working papers 204, Banque de France.
    12. Kichko, Sergey & Kokovin, Sergey & Zhelobodko, Evgeny, 2014. "Trade patterns and export pricing under non-CES preferences," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1), pages 129-142.
    13. Hillberry, Russell H. & McDaniel, Christine A., 2002. "A Decomposition of North American Trade Growth since NAFTA," Working Papers 15866, United States International Trade Commission, Office of Economics.
    14. Stibora, Joachim & de Vaal, Albert, 2007. "Trade policy in a Ricardian model with a continuum of goods under nonhomothetic preferences," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 350-377, September.
    15. Gundlach, Erich & de Vaal, Albert, 2010. "Look before you leap: the economics of free trade and income redistribution," Kiel Working Papers 1583, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    16. Albert de Vaal & Joachim Stibora, 2006. "Does Preferential Trade Benefit Poor Countries? A General Equilibrium Assessment with Nonhomothetic Preferences," DEGIT Conference Papers c011_057, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
    17. Gundars Davidsons, 2005. "Modelling Long-Term Competitiveness of Latvia," Working Papers 2005/02, Latvijas Banka.

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    JEL classification:

    • F11 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Neoclassical Models of Trade
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade

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