Quality, Variable Markups, and Welfare: a Quantitative General Equilibrium Analysis of Export Prices
51 Pages Posted: 4 Mar 2019 Last revised: 4 Dec 2020
Date Written: February 2019
Modern trade models attribute the dispersion of international prices to physical and man-made barriers to trade, to the pricing-to-market by heterogeneous producers and to differences in the quality of output offered by firms. This paper presents a tractable general equilibrium model that incorporates all three of these mechanisms. Our model allows us to confront Chinese firm-level data on the prices charged and revenues earned within and across markets. We show that all three mechanisms are necessary to fit the distribution of prices and revenues across firms and markets. Accounting for endogenous quality heterogeneity across firms and markets is shown to be critical for the response of prices to trade and tariff shocks.
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