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International trade and income distribution: reconsidering the evidence

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  • Isabelle Bensidoun
  • Sébastien Jean

    ()

  • Aude Sztulman

Abstract

This article reassesses the link between international trade and income distribution. We argue that one way to assess the influence of international trade upon income distribution is to take account of each country’s specific trade patterns by measuring the changes in the factor content of trade. The econometric specification is based on changes in Gini indices (over non-overlapping 4-year intervals), computed exclusively from series drawn from the same source. Our results show that a change in the factor content of trade has a significant impact on income distribution. The sign and magnitude of this impact is conditional on the national income level. We find that an increase in the labor content of trade raises income inequality in poor countries, but reduces it in rich countries (the reverse is true for the capital content of trade). In particular, we show that in the 1980s and 1990s, international trade may have contributed significantly to widening income inequalities in developing countries.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Review of World Economics.

Volume (Year): 147 (2011)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
Pages: 593-619

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Handle: RePEc:spr:weltar:v:147:y:2011:i:4:p:593-619

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Related research

Keywords: International trade; Income distribution; Factor content; Gini index; F11; F16; D30;

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References

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  1. Ravallion, Martin, 2001. "Inequality convergence," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2645, The World Bank.
  2. Robert J. Barro & Jong-Wha Lee, 2000. "International Data on Educational Attainment: Updates and Implications," CID Working Papers 42, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Julien Gourdon & Nicolas Maystre & Jaime de Melo, 2008. "Opennes, Inequality, and Poverty: Endowments Matter," Development Working Papers 239, Centro Studi Luca d\'Agliano, University of Milano.
  2. Muhammad, Shahbaz & Faridul, Islam & Muhammad Sabihuddin, Butt, 2011. "Devaluation and income inequality: Evidence from Pakistan," MPRA Paper 35522, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 21 Dec 2011.
  3. Caselli, Mauro, 2009. "Does wealth inequality reduce the gains from trade?," MPRA Paper 15329, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Meschi, Elena & Vivarelli, Marco, 2007. "Globalization and Income Inequality," IZA Discussion Papers 2958, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Xiaodong Lu & Guowei Cai, 2011. "Effective factor endowments, trade openness and income distribution in China," Frontiers of Economics in China, Springer, vol. 6(2), pages 188-210, June.
  6. Meschi, Elena & Vivarelli, Marco, 2009. "Trade and Income Inequality in Developing Countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 287-302, February.

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