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Disparities in Incomes and Prices Internationally


  • Kenneth W Clements

    (Business School, University of Western Australia)

  • Grace Gao

    (Business School, University of Western Australia)

  • Thomas Simpson

    (Business School, University of Western Australia)


The dispersion of the distribution of relative prices in poor countries is substantially higher than that in the rich. As in 130+ countries relative prices are closely related to incomes, we develop a model that shows that the prices of luxuries (necessities) rise (fall) with income growth. This model provides a link between price dispersion and incomes that leads to several interesting concepts, including minimum-variance income and dispersion-equivalent income, the income needed to compensate for higher dispersion, which are illustrated with data from the International Comparison Program. The paper also contains an analysis of the welfare cost of higher dispersion in poorer countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Kenneth W Clements & Grace Gao & Thomas Simpson, 2012. "Disparities in Incomes and Prices Internationally," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 12-01, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwa:wpaper:12-01

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kenneth Rogoff, 1996. "The Purchasing Power Parity Puzzle," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(2), pages 647-668, June.
    2. Selvanathan, E. Antony, 1985. "An even simpler differential demand system," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 343-347.
    3. Ina Simonovska, 2015. "Income Differences and Prices of Tradables: Insights from an Online Retailer," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 82(4), pages 1612-1656.
    4. Alan M. Taylor & Mark P. Taylor, 2004. "The Purchasing Power Parity Debate," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(4), pages 135-158, Fall.
    5. Froot, Kenneth A. & Rogoff, Kenneth, 1995. "Perspectives on PPP and long-run real exchange rates," Handbook of International Economics,in: G. M. Grossman & K. Rogoff (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 32, pages 1647-1688 Elsevier.
    6. Kenneth W. Clements & Dongling Chen, 2010. "Affluence and Food: A Simple Way to Infer Incomes," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 92(4), pages 909-926.
    7. Ina Simonovska, 2009. "Income Differences and Prices of Tradables," 2009 Meeting Papers 692, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    8. Bela Balassa, 1964. "The Purchasing-Power Parity Doctrine: A Reappraisal," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 72, pages 584-584.
    9. Mark Taylor, 2006. "Real exchange rates and Purchasing Power Parity: mean-reversion in economic thought," Applied Financial Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(1-2), pages 1-17.
    10. Bhagwati, Jagdish N, 1984. "Why Are Services Cheaper in the Poor Countries?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 94(374), pages 279-286, June.
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