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Trade Liberalization and the Evolution of Skill Earnings Differentials in Brazil

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  • Gonzaga, Gustavo
  • Menezes Filho, Naércio Aquino
  • Terra, Maria Cristina T.

Abstract

Skilled labor earnings differentials decreased during the trade liberalization implemented in Brazil from 1988 to 1995. This paper investigates the role of trade liberalization in explaining these relative earnings movements. We perform several independent empirical exercises that check the traditional trade transmission mechanism, using disaggregated data on tariffs, prices, earnings, employment and skill intensity. We find that: i) employment shifted from skilled to unskilled intensive sectors, and each sector increased its relative share of skilled labor; ii) relative prices fell in skill intensive sectors; iii) tari¤ changes across sectors were not related to skill intensities, but the pass-through from tariffs to prices was larger in skill intensive sectors; iv) the decline in skilled earnings differentials mandated by the price variation predicted by trade was even larger than the observed one. The results are compatible with trade liberalization accounting for the observed relative earnings changes in Brazil. They also highlight the importance of considering the effects of differentiated pass-through from tariffs to prices.

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Paper provided by FGV/EPGE Escola Brasileira de Economia e Finanças, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil) in its series Economics Working Papers (Ensaios Economicos da EPGE) with number 585.

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Date of creation: 01 Apr 2005
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Handle: RePEc:fgv:epgewp:585

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  1. Dornbusch, Rudiger & Fischer, Stanley & Samuelson, Paul A, 1980. "Heckscher- Ohlin Trade Theory with a Continuum of Goods," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 95(2), pages 203-24, September.
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  5. Gustavo Gonzaga & Naércio Menezes Filho & Maria Cristina Terra, 2005. "Trade liberalization and the evolution of skill earnings differentials in Brazil," Textos para discussão 503, Department of Economics PUC-Rio (Brazil).
  6. repec:fth:prinin:375 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Beyer, Harald & Rojas, Patricio & Vergara, Rodrigo, 1999. "Trade liberalization and wage inequality," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 103-123, June.
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