Income Differences and Prices of Tradables
NBER Working Paper No. 16233
I study the positive relationship between prices of tradable goods and per-capita income. I develop a highly tractable general equilibrium model of international trade with heterogeneous firms and non-homothetic consumer preferences that accounts for the observed cross-country variation in prices along two key dimensions. The model yields a new testable prediction that relates prices to measurable variables. I use the prediction to estimate the elasticity of price with respect to per-capita income from unique data featuring prices of 245 identical goods sold exclusively via the Internet in twenty-nine European, Asian, and North American markets. The empirical findings suggest that variable mark-ups account for a third of the observed cross-country differences in prices of tradables.
This paper was revised on June 6, 2013