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Globalization And Top Income Shares

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  • Lin Ma
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    Abstract

    How does globalization affect the income gaps between the rich and the poor? This paper presents a new piece of empirical evidence showing that access to the global market, either through exporting or through multinational production, is associated with a higher executive-to-worker pay ratio within the firm. It then builds a model with heterogeneous firms, occupational choice, and executive compensation to model analytically and assess quantitatively the impact of globalization on the income gaps between the rich and the poor. The key mechanism is that the “gains from trade” are not distributed evenly within the same firm. The compensation of an executive is positively linked to the size of the firm, while the wage paid to the workers is determined in a country- wide labor market. Any extra profit earned in the foreign markets benefits the executives more than the average worker. Counterfactual exercises suggest that this new channel is quantitatively important for the observed surge in top income shares in the data. Using the changes in the volume of trade and multinational firm sales, the model can explain around 33 percent of the surge in top income shares over the past two decades in the United States.

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    File URL: ftp://ftp2.census.gov/ces/wp/2014/CES-WP-14-07.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau in its series Working Papers with number 14-07.

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    Length: 75 pages
    Date of creation: Feb 2014
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:14-07

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    Keywords: E25 F12 F62 J33;

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    1. Monte, Ferdinando, 2011. "Skill bias, trade, and wage dispersion," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 202-218, March.
    2. Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg & Nina Pavcnik, 2007. "Distributional Effects of Globalization in Developing Countries," NBER Working Papers 12885, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    7. David Hummels, 2007. "Transportation Costs and International Trade in the Second Era of Globalization," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(3), pages 131-154, Summer.
    8. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2003. "Income Inequality In The United States, 1913-1998," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(1), pages 1-39, February.
    9. Meckl, Jürgen & Weigert, Benjamin, 2011. "Occupational Choice, Aggregate Productivity, and Trade," IZA Discussion Papers 5497, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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    13. Carola Frydman & Raven E. Saks, 2007. "Executive compensation: a new view from a long-term perspective, 1936-2005," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2007-35, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    14. Robert E. Lucas Jr., 1978. "On the Size Distribution of Business Firms," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 9(2), pages 508-523, Autumn.
    15. Egger, Hartmut & Kreickemeier, Udo, 2012. "Fairness, trade, and inequality," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(2), pages 184-196.
    16. Jonathan Vogel & Ariel Burstein, 2012. "International trade, technology, and the skill premium," 2012 Meeting Papers 664, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    17. F. Clementi & M. Gallegati, 2005. "Pareto's Law of Income Distribution: Evidence for Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States," Papers physics/0504217, arXiv.org, revised Mar 2006.
    18. di Giovanni, Julian & Levchenko, Andrei A. & Rancière, Romain, 2010. "Power Laws in Firm Size and Openness to Trade: Measurement and Implications," CEPR Discussion Papers 7773, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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