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The impact of ethnic diversity on the quality of exports: evidence from China

Tuan Anh Luong (De Montfort University, Leicester, UK)

Journal of Economic Studies

ISSN: 0144-3585

Article publication date: 5 November 2020

Issue publication date: 7 September 2021




The quality of exports is an important indicator of the economic development of a country. It is, therefore, important to understand its determinants. Existing literature reveals a number of determinants such as the position of a country, the distance to the trading partner, the size of the firm and the productivity or the quality of inputs. In this study, the author proposes a new determinant, namely ethnic diversity.


In the first stage of this research, the author estimates the quality of exports following Berry (1994) approach. The author also addresses the endogeneity problem as suggested by Khandelwal (2010). The author’s measure of ethnic diversity follows Easterly and Levine (1997). In the second stage, the author regresses the estimated quality on the measure of ethnic diversity, interacted by the degree of differentiation of the goods.


First, the author finds that ethnic diversity in general reduces the quality of exports. Second, the author finds that the impact varies with the degree of differentiation. In particular, while ethnic diversity decreases the quality of differentiated goods, it increases the quality of homogeneous goods.

Research limitations/implications

Because of data limitations, the research cannot investigate the impact of migration.

Practical implications

The findings of this paper show how one can improve the quality of products based on the characteristics of the population and of the products.


In the last decade, there has been growing attention paid to the impact of ethnic diversity on economic performance. As industrial powerhouses such as China continue to urbanize, stitching together once-disparate ethnic groups, the role ethnic diversity plays in the economic life of a country must be examined from a variety of angles. This paper is the first to investigate the specific impact of that diversity on product quality and on how diversity interacts with the characteristics of products.



The author would like to thank Volodymyr Lugovskyy, Bo Chen, Zhiyuan Li, Hong Ma, Miaojie Yu, Meredith Crowley, Gene Grossman, Sandra Poncet, Gabriel Felbermayr, Tony Venables, Peter Egger and participants in the seminars at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, Ningbo Nottingham, the University of International Business and Administration, the GEP conference, the Australasian Trade Workshop for helpful comments. All the remaining errors are the author’s.


Luong, T.A. (2021), "The impact of ethnic diversity on the quality of exports: evidence from China", Journal of Economic Studies, Vol. 48 No. 7, pp. 1323-1335.



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