A Simple Model of Quality Heterogeneity and International Trade
AbstractThis paper develops a trade model with firm-specifc quality heterogeneity, limit pricing, and an endogenous distribution of markups. Exposure to trade induces only the firms producing high-quality (high-price) products to enter the export markets, whereas firms producing low-quality (low-price) products serve the domestic market in accor- dance to the Alchian and Allen (1964) conjecture. Trade liberalization intensifies the competition; causes firms producing low-quality products to exit the market; increases the number of products consumed in each country; and generates quality upgrading that results in higher average domestic and export markups. The welfare effect of trade liberalization is ambiguous because the laissez-faire markups can be greater or lower than the socially optimal markups.