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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. 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.
  2. Francesco Di Comite & Jacques-François Thisse & Hylke Vandenbussche, 2011. "Verti-zontal differentiation in monopolistic competition," Working Paper Research 216, National Bank of Belgium.
  3. Leamer, Edward E, 1981. "Is It a Demand Curve, or Is It a Supply Curve? Partial Identification through Inequality Constraints," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 63(3), pages 319-27, August.
  4. Juan Carlos Hallak & Peter K. Schott, 2008. "Estimating Cross-Country Differences in Product Quality," NBER Working Papers 13807, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Amit Khandelwal, 2007. "The Long and Short (of) Quality Ladders," 2007 Meeting Papers 244, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  6. 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.
  7. David E. Weinstein & Christian Broda, 2004. "Globalization And The Gains From Variety," Econometric Society 2004 Latin American Meetings 327, Econometric Society.
  8. Romer, Paul, 1994. "New goods, old theory, and the welfare costs of trade restrictions," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 5-38, February.
  9. Mary Amiti & Amit K. Khandelwal, 2009. "Import Competition and Quality Upgrading," NBER Working Papers 15503, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Justin R. Pierce & Peter K. Schott, 2012. "Concording U.S. Harmonized System categories over time," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2012-16, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  13. 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.
  14. Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1977. "Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(3), pages 297-308, June.
  15. Soderbery, Anson, 2010. "Investigating the asymptotic properties of import elasticity estimates," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 109(2), pages 57-62, November.
  16. Robert C. Feenstra & John Romalis, 2012. "International Prices and Endogenous Quality," NBER Working Papers 18314, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Sato, Kazuo, 1976. "The Ideal Log-Change Index Number," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 58(2), pages 223-28, May.
  18. Mohler, Lukas & Seitz, Michael, 2010. "The Gains from Variety in the European Union," Discussion Papers in Economics 11477, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  19. 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.
  20. Lukas Mohler, 2009. "Globalization and the Gains from Variety: The Case of a Small Open Economy," FIW Working Paper series 031, FIW.
  21. 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.
  22. Krugman, Paul R., 1979. "Increasing returns, monopolistic competition, and international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 469-479, November.
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