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Quality sorting and trade: Firm-level evidence for French wine

  • Matthieu Crozet

    (Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne)

  • Keith Head

    (Sauder School of Business [British Columbia])

  • Thierry Mayer

    (Département d'économie)

Investigations of the effect of quality differences on heterogeneous performance in exporting have been limited by lack of direct measures of quality. We examine exports of French wine, matching the exporting firms to producer ratings from two wine guides. We show that high quality producers export to more markets, charge higher prices, and sell more in each market. More attractive markets are served by exporters that, on average, make lower rated Champagne. Market attractiveness has a weakly negative effect on prices and a strongly positive effect on quantities, confirming the sign predictions of a simple quality sorting model. Methodologically, we make several contributions to the literature. First, we propose an estimation method for regressions of firm-level exports on ability measures and use Monte Carlo simulations to show that it corrects a severe selection bias present in OLS estimates. Second, we show how the means of quality, price, and quantity for exporters to a given market can be used to recover estimates of core parameters (which we compare with firm-level estimates) and discriminate between productivity and quality-sorting versions of the Melitz model. Our new method regresses country means on an index of each country's attractiveness and the fixed costs of entering it. We compare our method, which utilizes explanatory variables estimated in the firm-level regressions, to the conventional approach that relies on a reduced-form relationship with proxies for attractiveness and fixed costs.

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Paper provided by Sciences Po in its series Sciences Po publications with number 7295.

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Date of creation: May 2009
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Handle: RePEc:spo:wpmain:info:hdl:2441/10148
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  1. Marc J. Melitz, 2003. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(6), pages 1695-1725, November.
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  5. E. Baldwin, Richard & Ito, Tadashi, 2011. "Quality Competition Versus Price Competition Goods: An Empirical Classification," Journal of Economic Integration, Center for Economic Integration, Sejong University, vol. 26, pages 110-135.
  6. David Hummels & Alexandre Skiba, 2002. "Shipping the Good Apples Out? An Empirical Confirmation of the Alchian-Allen Conjecture," NBER Working Papers 9023, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Martina Lawless & Karl Whelan, 2007. "A note on trade costs and distance," Open Access publications 10197/224, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  8. Lucia Foster & John Haltiwanger & Chad Syverson, 2005. "Reallocation, Firm Turnover, and Efficiency: Selection on Productivity or Profitability?," Working Papers 05-11, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  9. Eaton, Jonathan & Kortum, Samuel S & Kramarz, Francis, 2009. "An Anatomy of International Trade: Evidence from French Firms," CEPR Discussion Papers 7111, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Elhanan Helpman & Marc Melitz & Yona Rubinstein, 2008. "Estimating Trade Flows: Trading Partners and Trading Volumes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(2), pages 441-487.
  11. Marc J. Melitz & Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano, 2005. "Market Size, Trade, and Productivity," Development Working Papers 201, Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano, University of Milano.
  12. 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.
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  14. Elhanan Helpman & Marc J. Melitz & Stephen R. Yeaple, 2004. "Export Versus FDI with Heterogeneous Firms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 300-316, March.
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  16. Bernard, A., 1997. "Exceptional Exporter Performance: Cause, Effect, or Both?," Working papers 97-21, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  17. 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.
  18. Thierry Mayer & Gianmarco Ottaviano, 2008. "The Happy Few: The Internationalisation of European Firms," Intereconomics- Review of European Economic Policy, Springer;German National Library of Economics;Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), vol. 43(3), pages 135-148, May.
  19. Richard Baldwin & James Harrigan, 2011. "Zeros, Quality, and Space: Trade Theory and Trade Evidence," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 60-88, May.
  20. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2001. "Trade in Capital Goods," NBER Working Papers 8070, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum & Francis Kramarz, 2004. "Dissecting trade: firms, industries, and export destinations," Staff Report 332, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  22. Hallak, Juan Carlos, 2006. "Product quality and the direction of trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 238-265, January.
  23. Johnson, Robert C., 2012. "Trade and prices with heterogeneous firms," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(1), pages 43-56.
  24. Thomas Chaney, 2008. "Distorted Gravity: The Intensive and Extensive Margins of International Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1707-21, September.
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