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How Does Quality Impact on Import Prices?

Understanding the dynamics of import price developments is an important but challenging issue which affects the way we look on consumers' welfare, real exchange rates and exchange rate pass-through. In this paper we propose an exact import price index which extends the approach by Broda and Weinstein (2006) who adjust price developments for changes in varieties of imported products. We relax two assumptions still underlying the Broda and Weinstein (2006) approach, thus allowing the set of imported goods and the quality to vary. This variety-, set-of-products-, and quality-adjusted import price index shows that gains from variety in European G7 countries, although positive, are rather small compared to calculated gains from quality. Using HS 07 (vegetables) as our benchmark group of products with unchanged quality, we find significant gains from quality for Germany, France, Italy and the UK between 1995 and 2010. Although these results are not invariant to the choice of the benchmark category, they clearly stress the importance of incorporating the quality issues in empirical literature. Ignoring changes in import quality can give misleading estimates of import prices and consumers' welfare.

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Paper provided by Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank) in its series Working Papers with number 175.

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Length: 45
Date of creation: 31 Dec 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:onb:oenbwp:175
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  1. Paul M. Romer, 1993. "New Goods, Old Theory, and the Welfare Costs of Trade Restrictions," NBER Working Papers 4452, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1975. "Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 64, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  3. Juan Carlos Hallak & Peter K. Schott, 2008. "Estimating Cross-Country Differences in Product Quality," NBER Working Papers 13807, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Di Comite, Francesco & Thisse, Jacques-François & Vandenbussche, Hylke, 2012. "Verti-zontal Differentiation in Monopolistic Competition," CEPR Discussion Papers 8752, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Edward E. Leamer, 1979. "Is it a Demand Curve, or is it a Supply Curve?: Partial Identification Through Inequality Constraints," UCLA Economics Working Papers 153, UCLA Department of Economics.
  6. Mary Amiti & Amit K. Khandelwal, 2013. "Import Competition and Quality Upgrading," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(2), pages 476-490, May.
  7. Christian Broda & David E. Weinstein, 2006. "Globalization and the Gains from Variety," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(2), pages 541-585, May.
  8. Robert C. Feenstra & John Romalis, 2012. "International Prices and Endogenous Quality," NBER Working Papers 18314, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Amit Khandelwal, 2009. "The Long and Short (of) Quality Ladders," NBER Working Papers 15178, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Krugman, Paul R., 1979. "Increasing returns, monopolistic competition, and international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 469-479, November.
  11. David Hummels & Peter J. Klenow, 2005. "The Variety and Quality of a Nation's Exports," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 704-723, June.
  12. Justin Pierce & Peter Schott, 2009. "Concording U.S. Harmonized System Categories Over Time," Working Papers 09-11, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  13. Flam, Harry & Helpman, Elhanan, 1987. "Vertical Product Differentiation and North-South Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 810-22, December.
  14. Blonigen, Bruce A. & Soderbery, Anson, 2010. "Measuring the benefits of foreign product variety with an accurate variety set," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 168-180, November.
  15. Gloria Sheu, 2014. "Price, Quality, and Variety: Measuring the Gains from Trade in Differentiated Products," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(4), pages 66-89, October.
  16. Mohler, Lukas & Seitz, Michael, 2010. "The Gains from Variety in the European Union," Discussion Papers in Economics 11477, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  17. Konstantins Benkovskis & Ramune Rimgailaite, 2011. "The quality and variety of exports from the new EU member states," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 19(4), pages 723-747, October.
  18. Lukas Mohler, 2009. "Globalization and the Gains from Variety: The Case of a Small Open Economy," FIW Working Paper series 031, FIW.
  19. Sato, Kazuo, 1976. "The Ideal Log-Change Index Number," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 58(2), pages 223-28, May.
  20. Krugman, Paul, 1980. "Scale Economies, Product Differentiation, and the Pattern of Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(5), pages 950-59, December.
  21. Feenstra, Robert C, 1994. "New Product Varieties and the Measurement of International Prices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(1), pages 157-77, March.
  22. Soderbery, Anson, 2010. "Investigating the asymptotic properties of import elasticity estimates," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 109(2), pages 57-62, November.
  23. Christian Broda & Joshua Greenfield & David Weinstein, 2006. "From Groundnuts to Globalization: A Structural Estimate of Trade and Growth," NBER Working Papers 12512, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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