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The impact of income growth on quality structure improvement of imported food: evidence from China 's firm-level data

Lin Sun, Li Tao Ye and Michael Reed ()

China Agricultural Economic Review, 2020, vol. 12, issue 4, 647-671

Abstract: Purpose - Against the background of the rapid increase of total imported food in China, China's imported high-quality food has increased more than low-quality ones, and China's imported food quality structure has continuously improved. It is a new issue that needs further examination. Design/methodology/approach - Based on the assumption of non-homothetic preference, this paper apply the method provided by Eaton and Kortum (2002) in a new theoretical model and empirically analyzes the impact of per capita income on the quality structure of imported food by using SYS-GMM with firm import data from Chinese customs. Findings - The study finds that income is a significant factor which affects the imported food quality structure in China. The higher the per capita income, the higher the imported food quality structure. Furthermore, per capita income has a significant positive impact on the imported food quality structure in different quality groups. The research confirms that China import more food with the highest quality as its per capita income increases. Research limitations/implications - Chinese policymaker needs to reconsider the role of food imports in improving food quality structure. The aim of the Chinese food industry's supply-side reform should be not only to remove excess capacity but also to produce high-quality products that meet the demand of discriminating consumers. Originality/value - This paper constructs a new theme for imported food quality structure and investigates import food quality structure improvement from the perspective of demand by incorporating non-homothetic preferences. Another feature of this paper is that it conducts an empirical analysis with unique and highly disaggregated firm import data from Chinese customs to measure imported food quality, which is more refined than the national-product dimension data.

Keywords: Income; Import quality structure; Non-homothetic preference (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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