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Skill Premium and Trade Puzzles: A Solution Linking Production and Preferences

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  • Caron, Justin
  • Fally, Thibault
  • Markusen, James R.

Abstract

International trade theory is a general-equilibrium discipline, yet most of the standard portfolio of research focuses on the production side of general equilibrium. In addition, we do not have a good understanding of the relationship between characteristics of goods in production and characteristics of preferences. This paper conducts an empirical investigation into the relationship between a good's factor intensity in production and its income elasticity of demand in consumption. In particular, we find a strong and significant positive relationship between skilled-labor intensity in production and income elasticity of demand for several types of preferences, with and without accounting for trade costs and differences in prices. Counter-factual simulations yield a number of results. We can explain about half of “missing trade”, and show an important role for per-capita income in understanding trade/GDP ratios, the choice of trading partners, and the composition of trade. Furthermore, an equal rise in productivity in all sectors in all countries leads to a rising skill premium in all countries, with particularly large increases in developing countries.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 8999.

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Date of creation: Jun 2012
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8999

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Keywords: gravity; income; missing trade; non-homothetic preferences; skill premium;

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References

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  1. Hanoch, Giora, 1975. "Production and Demand Models with Direct or Indirect Implicit Additivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 43(3), pages 395-419, May.
  2. Robert C. Feenstra & Gordon H. Hanson, 1999. "The Impact Of Outsourcing And High-Technology Capital On Wages: Estimates For The United States, 1979-1990," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 907-940, August.
  3. Kiminori Matsuyama, 1999. "A Ricardian Model with a Continuum of Goods under Non-homothetic Preferences: Demand Complementarities, Income Distribution, and North-South Trade," Discussion Papers 1241, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  4. Cragg, Michael Ian & Epelbaum, Mario, 1996. "Why has wage dispersion grown in Mexico? Is it the incidence of reforms or the growing demand for skills?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 99-116, October.
  5. Trefler, Daniel, 1995. "The Case of the Missing Trade and Other Mysteries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1029-46, December.
  6. Orazio Attanasio & Pinelopi Goldberg & Nina Pavcnik, 2003. "Trade Reforms and Wage Inequiality in Colombia," NBER Working Papers 9830, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  8. James R. Markusen, 2010. "Putting Per-Capita Income Back into Trade Theory," NBER Working Papers 15903, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Jeffrey J. Reimer & Thomas W. Hertel, 2010. "Nonhomothetic Preferences and International Trade," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(2), pages 408-425, 05.
  10. Fally, Thibault & Paillacar, Rodrigo & Terra, Cristina, 2010. "Economic geography and wages in Brazil: Evidence from micro-data," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(1), pages 155-168, January.
  11. James Cassing & Shuichiro Nishioka, 2009. "Nonhomothetic Tastes and Missing Trade of Factor Services," Working Papers 09-03, Department of Economics, West Virginia University.
  12. Chao, Hung-po & Kim, Sehun & Manne, Alan S., 1982. "Computation of equilibria for nonlinear economies: Two experimental models," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 23-43, March.
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  14. Hunter, Linda, 1991. "The contribution of nonhomothetic preferences to trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(3-4), pages 345-358, May.
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Cited by:
  1. James R. Markusen, 2014. "Per-Capital Income as a Determinant of International Trade and Environment Policies," CESifo Working Paper Series 4618, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Claudia Bernasconi, 2013. "Similarity of income distributions and the extensive and intensive margin of bilateral trade flows," ECON - Working Papers 115, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
  3. Markusen, James R., 2012. "Per-Capita Income as a Determinant of International Trade and Environmental Policies," Discussion Papers 2013-06, Graduate School of Economics, Hitotsubashi University.

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