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Trade and the Skill Premium Puzzle with Capital Market Imperfections

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  • Roberto Bonfatti
  • Maitreesh Ghatak

Abstract

An interesting puzzle is that trade liberalization in the 1980s and 1990s has been associated with a sharp increase in the skill premium in both developed and developing countries. This is in contrast with neoclassical theory, according to which trade should increase the relative return of the relatively abundant factor. We develop a simple model of trade with capital market imperfections, and show that trade can increase the skill premium in both the North and the South, and both in the short run as well as in the long run. We show that trade with a skill-intensive economy has two effects: it reduces the skilled wage, and thus discourages non talented agents out of the skilled labor force; and it reduces the cost of subsistence, thus allowing the talented offspring of unskilled workers to go to school. This compositional effect has a positive effect on the observed skill premium, possibly strong enough to counterweight the decrease in the skilled wage.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE in its series STICERD - Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers Series with number 020.

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Date of creation: Nov 2010
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Handle: RePEc:cep:stieop:020

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Web page: http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/default.asp

Related research

Keywords: Trade Liberalization; Skill Premium; Credit Market Frictions; Latin America;

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  1. Ranjan, Priya, 2003. "Trade induced convergence through human capital accumulation in credit-constrained economies," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 139-162, October.
  2. Ranjan, Priya, 2001. "Credit constraints and the phenomenon of child labor," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 81-102, February.
  3. Chesnokova, Tatyana & Krishna, Kala, 2009. "Skill acquisition, credit constraints, and trade," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 227-238, March.
  4. Attanasio, Orazio & Goldberg, Pinelopi & Pavcnik, Nina, 2003. "Trade Reforms and Wage Inequality in Colombia," CEPR Discussion Papers 4023, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Kletzer, Kenneth & Bardhan, Pranab, 1986. "Credit Markets and Patterns of International Trade," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt1g36f3sd, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  6. Nancy L. Stokey, 1990. "Human Capital, Product Quality, and Growth," Discussion Papers 883, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  7. Wacziarg, Romain & Wallack, Jessica Seddon, 2004. "Trade liberalization and intersectoral labor movements," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 411-439, December.
  8. Naércio Aquino Menezes-Filho & Marc-Andreas Muendler, 2011. "Labor Reallocation in Response to Trade Reform," NBER Working Papers 17372, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Das, Satya P., 2006. "Trade, skill acquisition and distribution," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 118-141, October.
  10. Ranjan, Priya, 2001. "Dynamic evolution of income distribution and credit-constrained human capital investment in open economies," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 329-358, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Bonfatti, Roberto & Ghatak, Maitreesh, 2013. "Trade and the allocation of talent with capital market imperfections," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(1), pages 187-201.

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