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Trade and the Distribution of Human Capital

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  • Spiros Bougheas
  • Raymond Riezman

Abstract

We develop a two-country, two-sector model of trade where the only difference between the two countries is their distribution of human capital endowments. We show that even if the two countries have identical aggregate human capital endowments the pattern of trade depends on the properties of the two human capital distributions. We also show that the two distributions of endowments also completely determine the effects of trade on income inequality. Then, we prove that there are long-term gains from trade if the marginal utility of income is constant or as long as losers from trade are compensated by winners. Finally, we look at a simple majority voting model. It turns out depending on the distribution of human capital, autarky and free trade with and without compensation may be the outcome of majority voting.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 1475.

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Date of creation: 2005
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_1475

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Keywords: patterns of trade; income distribution; welfare; political economy;

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  1. Robert Feenstra & Gordon Hanson, 2001. "Global Production Sharing and Rising Inequality: A Survey of Trade and Wages," NBER Working Papers 8372, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Gene M. Grossman & Giovanni Maggi, 1998. "Diversity and Trade," NBER Working Papers 6741, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Zhu, Susan Chun & Trefler, Daniel, 2005. "Trade and inequality in developing countries: a general equilibrium analysis," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 21-48, January.
  4. Feenstra, R.C. & Hanson, G.H., 1995. "Foreign Investment, Outsourcing and Relative Wages," Papers 95-14, California Davis - Institute of Governmental Affairs.
  5. Deardorff, A.V., 1997. "International Externalities in the Use of Domestic Policies to Redistribute Income," Working Papers 405, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
  6. Davidson, Carl & Matusz, Steven J. & Nelson, Douglas R., 2007. "Can compensation save free trade?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 167-186, March.
  7. Krugman, Paul R., 1979. "Increasing returns, monopolistic competition, and international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 469-479, November.
  8. Jota Ishikawa, 1996. "Scale Economies in Factor Supplies: International Trade, and Migration," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 29(3), pages 573-94, August.
  9. Davis, Donald R., 1995. "Intra-industry trade: A Heckscher-Ohlin-Ricardo approach," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(3-4), pages 201-226, November.
  10. Carl Davidson & Steven Matusz, 2005. "Trade Liberalization and Compensation," International Trade 0503008, EconWPA.
  11. Gene M. Grossman, 2004. "The Distribution of Talent and the Pattern and Consequences of International Trade," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(1), pages 209-239, February.
  12. Yeaple, Stephen Ross, 2005. "A simple model of firm heterogeneity, international trade, and wages," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 1-20, January.
  13. Eckhard Janeba, 2000. "Trade, Income Inequality, and Government Policies: Redistribution of Income or Education Subsidies?," NBER Working Papers 7485, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Carl Davidson & Steven J. Matusz, 2004. "International Trade and Labor Markets: Theory, Evidence, and Policy Implications," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number itlm, December.
  15. repec:fth:michin:405 is not listed on IDEAS
  16. Bond, Eric W., 1986. "Entrepreneurial ability, income distribution, and international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(3-4), pages 343-356, May.
  17. Brander, James A., 1981. "Intra-industry trade in identical commodities," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 1-14, February.
  18. Mayer, Wolfgang, 1984. "Endogenous Tariff Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(5), pages 970-85, December.
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