IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Income distribution, product quality, and international trade

  • Fajgelbaum, Pablo
  • Grossman, Gene M.
  • Helpman, Elhanan

The authors develop a framework for studying trade in horizontally and vertically differentiated products. In their model, consumers with heterogeneous incomes and tastes purchase a homogeneous good and make a discrete choice of quality and variety of a differentiated product. The distribution of preferences generates a nested-logit demand structure such that the fraction of consumers who buy a higher-quality product rises with income. The model features a home-market effect that helps to explain why richer countries export higher-quality goods. It provides a tractable tool for studying the welfare consequences of trade and trade policy for different income groups in an economy.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 5843.

in new window

Date of creation: 01 Oct 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5843
Contact details of provider: Postal: 1818 H Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20433
Phone: (202) 477-1234
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Devashish Mitra & Vitor Trindade, 2003. "Inequality and Trade," NBER Working Papers 10087, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Donald R. Davis, 1997. "The Home Market, Trade, and Industrial Structure," NBER Working Papers 6076, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Robert Johnson, 2008. "Trade and Prices with Heterogeneous Firms," 2008 Meeting Papers 244, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  4. Gordon H. Hanson & Chong Xiang, 2002. "The Home Market Effect and Bilateral Trade Patterns," Working Papers 481, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
  5. Juan Carlos Hallak, 2010. "A Product-Quality View of the Linder Hypothesis," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(3), pages 453-466, August.
  6. Juan Carlos Hallak & Peter K. Schott, 2008. "Estimating Cross-Country Differences in Product Quality," NBER Working Papers 13807, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Aviv Nevo, 2011. "Empirical Models of Consumer Behavior," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 3(1), pages 51-75, 09.
  8. Amit Khandelwal, 2010. "The Long and Short (of) Quality Ladders," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(4), pages 1450-1476.
  9. Murphy, Kevin M. & Shleifer, Andrei, 1997. "Quality and trade," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 1-15, June.
  10. Muhammed Dalgin & Devashish Mitra & Vitor Trindade, 2004. "Inequality, Nonhomothetic Preferences, and Trade: A Gravity Approach," NBER Working Papers 10800, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Paolo Epifani & Gino Gancia, 2004. "Increasing returns, imperfect competition and factor prices," Economics Working Papers 953, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Oct 2005.
  12. repec:oup:qjecon:v:117:y:2002:i:1:p:187-223 is not listed on IDEAS
  13. repec:oup:qjecon:v:123:y:2008:i:2:p:489-530 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. Hallak, Juan Carlos, 2006. "Product quality and the direction of trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 238-265, January.
  15. Frank Verboven, 1996. "International Price Discrimination in the European Car Market," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(2), pages 240-268, Summer.
  16. 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.
  17. Dow, James & Werlang, Sérgio Ribeiro da Costa, 1991. "Homothetic preferences," Economics Working Papers (Ensaios Economicos da EPGE) 176, FGV/EPGE Escola Brasileira de Economia e Finanças, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil).
  18. GABSZEWICZ, Jean J. & THISSE, Jacques-François, . "Entry (and exit) in a differentiated industry," CORE Discussion Papers RP 400, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  19. Goldberg, Pinelopi Koujianou, 1995. "Product Differentiation and Oligopoly in International Markets: The Case of the U.S. Automobile Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(4), pages 891-951, July.
  20. Susan Athey, 2002. "Monotone Comparative Statics Under Uncertainty," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(1), pages 187-223, February.
  21. Kugler, Maurice & Verhoogen, Eric, 2009. "The Quality-Complementarity Hypothesis: Theory and Evidence from Colombia," IZA Discussion Papers 3932, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  22. Juan Carlos Hallak & Jagadeesh Sivadasan, 2010. "Firms' Exporting Behavior under Quality Constraints," Working Papers 99, Universidad de San Andres, Departamento de Economia, revised Mar 2010.
  23. Train,Kenneth E., 2009. "Discrete Choice Methods with Simulation," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521747387.
  24. repec:oup:restud:v:49:y:1982:i:1:p:3-13 is not listed on IDEAS
  25. Mark Bils & Peter J. Klenow, 2000. "Quantifying Quality Growth," NBER Working Papers 7695, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  26. Karl Aiginger & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2006. "Specialization and concentration: a note on theory and evidence," Empirica, Springer, vol. 33(4), pages 255-266, September.
  27. Johnson, Robert C., 2012. "Trade and prices with heterogeneous firms," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(1), pages 43-56.
  28. repec:oup:restud:v:58:y:1991:i:1:p:63-80 is not listed on IDEAS
  29. Hunter, Linda, 1991. "The contribution of nonhomothetic preferences to trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(3-4), pages 345-358, May.
  30. Choi, Yo Chul & Hummels, David & Xiang, Chong, 2009. "Explaining import quality: The role of the income distribution," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(2), pages 293-303, July.
  31. 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.
  32. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2002. "Technology, Geography, and Trade," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(5), pages 1741-1779, September.
  33. Guido G. Porto, 2003. "Using survey data to assess the distributional effects of trade policy," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3137, The World Bank.
  34. Markusen, James R, 1986. "Explaining the Volume of Trade: An Eclectic Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(5), pages 1002-11, December.
  35. Amiti, Mary, 1998. "Inter-industry trade in manufactures: Does country size matter?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 231-255, April.
  36. Kiminori Matsuyama, 1999. "A Ricardian Model with a Continuum of Goods under Non-homothetic Preferences: Demand Complementarities, Income Distribution, and North-South Trade," Discussion Papers 1241, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  37. Davis, Donald R. & Weinstein, David E., 2003. "Market access, economic geography and comparative advantage: an empirical test," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 1-23, January.
  38. Berry, Steven & Levinsohn, James & Pakes, Ariel, 1995. "Automobile Prices in Market Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(4), pages 841-90, July.
  39. Paul Krugman, 1990. "Increasing Returns and Economic Geography," NBER Working Papers 3275, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  40. Verboven, Frank, 1996. "The nested logit model and representative consumer theory," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 57-63, January.
  41. 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.
  42. Raphael Anton Auer, 2010. "Consumer Heterogeneity and the Impact of Trade Liberalization: How Representative is the Representative Agent Framework?," Working Papers 2010-13, Swiss National Bank.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:

  1. Income Distribution, Product Quality, and International Trade (JPE 2011) in ReplicationWiki

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5843. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Roula I. Yazigi)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.