The article by Jonathan Dingel, entitled The Determinants of Quality Specialization, looks at two possible explanations for why higher-income countries tend to export higher-quality (skill-intensive) products — i.e. producers in higher per-capita income countries have access to bigger markets (home market effect) for higher-quality goods, and higher per-capita income countries tend to be relatively more skill abundant. He finds that more than half of the variation observed in the data is explained by the home market effect. According to the Selection Panel, “this paper addresses a central question in trade theory in an extremely competent way and has potentially important trade policy implications”.

The article by Claudia Steinwender, entitled Information Frictions and the Law of One Price: “When the States and the Kingdom became United”, studies the effect of better transmission of information on market efficiency and trade. The paper finds substantial welfare gains from reducing information frictions. In the judgment of the Selection Panel, “this is a masterly paper both in terms of the question it poses and its execution. Furthermore, this article represents an important contribution in understanding the role that WTO transparency provisions play in fostering trade and efficiency.”  

Jonathan Dingel (www.columbia.edu/~jid2106) is from the United States. He studied economics and political science at Gonzaga University (US) and received a Ph.D. in economics from Columbia University. He is an Assistant Professor in economics at Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago.

Claudia Steinwender (http://personal.lse.ac.uk/steinwen) is from Austria. She studied economic mathematics at Vienna University of Technology and international business administration at the University of Vienna. She received a Ph.D. in economics from the London School of Economics. She is spending the coming year as an IES Fellow at Princeton University and then joins the faculty of Harvard Business School in autumn 2015 as Assistant Professor.

The Academic Selection Panel comprised Dr Avinash Dixit (Emeritus Professor of Economics, Princeton University), Dr Robert Staiger (Professor of Economics, Wisconsin University), Dr Robert Teh (Acting Director, Economic Research and Statistics Division, WTO), and Dr Alberto Trejos (Professor of Economics, INCAE Business School). Dr Roberta Piermartini (Counsellor, Economic Research and Statistics Division, WTO) coordinated the work of the panel.

The first edition of the WTO Essay Award was launched in April 2009.

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