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Trade Liberalization and Wage Inequality: Evidence from India

  • Utsav Kumar
  • Prachi Mishra

We evaluate empirically the impact of the dramatic 1991 trade liberalization in India on the industry wage structure. The empirical strategy uses variation in industry wage premiums and trade policy across industries and over time. In contrast to most earlier studies on developing countries, we find a strong, negative, and robust relationship between changes in trade policy and changes in industry wage premiums over time. The results are consistent with liberalization-induced productivity increases at the firm level, which get passed on to industry wages. We also find that trade liberalization has led to decreased wage inequality between skilled and unskilled workers in India. This is consistent with the magnitude of tariff reductions being relatively larger in sectors with a higher proportion of unskilled workers. Copyright � 2007 The Authors.

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Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Review of Development Economics.

Volume (Year): 12 (2008)
Issue (Month): 2 (05)
Pages: 291-311

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Handle: RePEc:bla:rdevec:v:12:y:2008:i:2:p:291-311
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  1. Ann Harrison & Gordon Hanson, 1999. "Who Gains from Trade Reform? Some Remaining Puzzles," NBER Working Papers 6915, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Fallon, Peter R. & Lucas, Robert E. B., 1993. "Job security regulations and the dynamic demand for industrial labor in India and Zimbabwe," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 241-275, April.
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  8. Zadia M. Feliciano, 2001. "Workers and trade liberalization: The impact of trade reforms in Mexico on wages and employment," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 55(1), pages 95-115, October.
  9. Noel Gaston & Daniel Trefler, 1994. "Protection, Trade, and Wages: Evidence from U.S. Manufacturing," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 47(4), pages 574-593, July.
  10. Nina Pavcnik & Andreas Blom & Pinelopi Goldberg & Norbert Schady, 2004. "Trade Liberalization and Industry Wage Structure: Evidence from Brazil," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 18(3), pages 319-344.
  11. McDonald, Ian M & Solow, Robert M, 1981. "Wage Bargaining and Employment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(5), pages 896-908, December.
  12. F. Zilibotti & P. Aghion & R. Burgess, 2004. "The Unequal Effects of Trade Liberalization: Theory and Evidence from India," 2004 Meeting Papers 40, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  13. Nina Pavcnik, 2000. "Trade Liberalization, Exit, and Productivity Improvements: Evidence from Chilean Plants," NBER Working Papers 7852, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Revenga, Ana, 1997. "Employment and Wage Effects of Trade Liberalization: The Case of Mexican Manufacturing," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(3), pages S20-43, July.
  15. Petia Topalova & Amit Khandelwal, 2011. "Trade Liberalization and Firm Productivity: The Case of India," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(3), pages 995-1009, August.
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