IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Income Inequality and Trade: How to Think, What to Conclude


  • J. David Richardson


Recent econometric work and growing analytical consensus suggest that exogenous international market pressures are a contributing factor to trends in U.S. wage/earnings inequality. Trade accounts for a share of these inequality trends close to or somewhat greater than its 10-15 percent share of economic activity, especially over medium-term horizons and dependent on precise definition. Trade is neither a trivial influence nor a dominant one. Evidence exists that its influence has declined slightly in the past decade, however. Rapid technological growth in exportable sectors seems more important.

Suggested Citation

  • J. David Richardson, 1995. "Income Inequality and Trade: How to Think, What to Conclude," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 33-55, Summer.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:9:y:1995:i:3:p:33-55 Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.9.3.33

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Baldwin, Robert E. & Mutti, John H. & Richardson, J. David, 1980. "Welfare effects on the United States of a significant multilateral tariff reduction," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 405-423, August.
    2. Eli Berman & John Bound & Zvi Griliches, 1994. "Changes in the Demand for Skilled Labor within U. S. Manufacturing: Evidence from the Annual Survey of Manufactures," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 367-397.
    3. Haveman, J-D, 1996. "The Effect of Trade Induced Displacement on Unemployment and Wages," Papers 96-012, Purdue University, Krannert School of Management - Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER).
    4. Levy, Frank & Murnane, Richard J, 1992. "U.S. Earnings Levels and Earnings Inequality: A Review of Recent Trends and Proposed Explanations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 1333-1381, September.
    5. Edward E. Leamer, 1994. "Trade, Wages and Revolving Door Ideas," NBER Working Papers 4716, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Grossman, Gene M., 1986. "Imports as a cause of injury: The case of the U.S. steel industry," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(3-4), pages 201-223, May.
    7. Haveman, J.D., 1994. "The Influence of Changing Trade Patterns of Displacements of Labor," Papers 94-012, Purdue University, Krannert School of Management - Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER).
    8. Edward E. Leamer, 1994. "American Regionalism and Global Free Trade," NBER Working Papers 4753, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. John M. Abowd & Richard B. Freeman, 1991. "Immigration, Trade, and the Labor Market," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number abow91-1, January.
    10. Edward E. Leamer, 1992. "Wage Effects of A U.S. - Mexican Free Trade Agreement," NBER Working Papers 3991, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Ana L. Revenga, 1992. "Exporting Jobs?The Impact of Import Competition on Employment and Wages in U. S. Manufacturing," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 255-284.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:9:y:1995:i:3:p:33-55. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jane Voros) or (Michael P. Albert). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.