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Chicago Booth professor honored by World Trade Organization

September 19, 2014

Paper on production of high-quality goods shares award at European Trade Study Group

Jonathan Dingel, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, has received the 2014 World Trade Organization Essay Award for Young Economists.

Dingel was honored for his paper "The Determinants of Quality Specialization," which he wrote as a doctoral student at Columbia University.

The paper examines why high-income locations tend to manufacture high-quality goods. Dingel assessed two competing theories that could explain this pattern and found that the composition of local consumers' income levels plays as large a role as local manufacturing workers’ skills in determining manufacturing quality across U.S. cities.

"The evidence suggests that market access plays an important role in quality specialization. I'm absolutely delighted that the WTO has chosen to honor my work on this topic," Dingel said.

The selection committee said, "This paper addresses a central question in trade theory in an extremely competent way and has potentially important trade policy implications."

To be considered, papers must focus on trade policy and international trade cooperation issues, and authors must either be working toward a doctorate or no more than two years past having received a doctorate.

"This paper is part of a broader research agenda in which co-authors and I are exploring what causes different kinds of people and different kinds of businesses to choose different locations. Those choices have consequences for trade, growth, and inequality," Dingel said.

Dingel joins Ralph Ossa, an associate professor of economics at Chicago Booth, who won the award in 2009 for his paper, "A 'New Trade' Theory of GATT/WTO Negotiations," and Felix Tintelnot, an economics professor at the University of Chicago, who won last year.

Dingel joined the Chicago Booth faculty in July after completing his doctorate in economics at Columbia University. At Chicago Booth, he is the Kathryn and Grant Swick Faculty Scholar for 2014-15. His work has been supported previously by the Program for Economic Research at Columbia University and the Institute for Humane Studies. His research focuses on international and urban economics.

Dingel's paper was one of two chosen by a selection panel, with Claudia Steinwender, an International Economics Section Fellow at Princeton University, being awarded for her paper, "Information Frictions and the Law of One Price: ‘When the States and the Kingdom became United.'"

The award has been given out annually since 2009, and Dingel and Steinwender were feted Sept. 11 at the European Trade Study Group in Munich.

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From: Ethan Grove, Chicago Booth Office of Media Relations, 773.834.5161 (office), 773.420.8670 (cell), Ethan.Grove@chicagobooth.edu