The Long and Short (of) Quality Ladders

October 2010
Review of Economic Studies;Oct2010, Vol. 77 Issue 4, p1450
Academic Journal
Prices are typically used as proxies for countries' export quality. I relax this strong assumption by exploiting both price and quantity information to estimate the quality of products exported to the United States. Higher quality is assigned to products with higher market shares conditional on price. The estimated qualities reveal substantial heterogeneity in product markets' scope for quality differentiation, or their “quality ladders”. I use this variation to explain the heterogeneous impact of low-wage competition on US manufacturing employment and output. Markets characterized by relatively short quality ladders are associated with larger employment and output declines resulting from low-wage competition.


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