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Firm heterogeneity, trade, and wage inequality

Listed author(s):
  • Unel, Bulent

This paper considers a world of symmetric countries with two factors of production and two sectors. Outputs of the two sectors are imperfect substitutes and the sectors differ in relative factor intensity. Each sector contains a continuum of heterogeneous firms that produce differentiated goods within their sector. Trade is costly and there are both variable and fixed costs of exporting. The paper shows that under some plausible conditions supported by the data, trade between similar countries can increase the demand for skilled labor, which in turn increases the wage inequality between skilled and unskilled labor. The quantitative analysis suggests that such trade effects have played an important role in the increase in the US skill premium.

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File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0165-1889(10)00062-X
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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control.

Volume (Year): 34 (2010)
Issue (Month): 8 (August)
Pages: 1369-1379

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Handle: RePEc:eee:dyncon:v:34:y:2010:i:8:p:1369-1379
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jedc

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  1. Paolo Epifani & Gino Gancia, 2002. "The Skill Bias of World Trade," KITeS Working Papers 129, KITeS, Centre for Knowledge, Internationalization and Technology Studies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy, revised Mar 2001.
  2. Daron Acemoglu, 2000. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 7800, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Bernard, Andrew B. & Redding, Stephen J. & Schott, Peter K., 2004. "Comparative Advantage and Heterogenous Firms," CEPR Discussion Papers 4622, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Andrew B. Bernard & Jonathan Eaton & J. Bradford Jenson & Samuel Kortum, 2000. "Plants and Productivity in International Trade," NBER Working Papers 7688, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Neary, J Peter, 2002. "Foreign Competition and Wage Inequality," CEPR Discussion Papers 3420, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Miguel Székely & Nancy Birdsall & Jere R. Behrman, 2000. "Economics Reform and Wage Differentials in Latin America," Research Department Publications 4235, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  7. Lawrence F. Katz & Kevin M. Murphy, 1991. "Changes in Relative Wages, 1963-1987: Supply and Demand Factors," NBER Working Papers 3927, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Choi, E. Kwan & Harrigan, James, 2003. "Handbook of International Trade," Staff General Research Papers Archive 11375, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  9. David Autor & Lawrence Katz & Alan B. Krueger, 1997. "Computing Inequality: Have Computers Changed the Labor Market?," Working Papers 756, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  10. Acemoglu, D., 1997. "Why Do New Technologies Complement Skills? Directed Technical Change and Wage Inequality," Working papers 97-14, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  11. Jere R. Behrman & Nancy Birdsall & Miguel Székely, 2003. "Economic Policy and Wage Differentials in Latin America," Working Papers 29, Center for Global Development.
  12. Jaume Ventura, 1997. "Growth and Interdependence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(1), pages 57-84.
  13. Antonio Ciccone & Giovanni Peri, 2005. "Long-Run Substitutability Between More and Less Educated Workers: Evidence from U.S. States, 1950-1990," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(4), pages 652-663, November.
  14. Richard E. Baldwin & Frédéric Robert-Nicoud, 2006. "Trade and Growth with Heterogeneous Firms," CEP Discussion Papers dp0727, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  15. Melitz, Marc J, 2002. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," CEPR Discussion Papers 3381, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. Kiminori Matsuyama, 2007. "Beyond Icebergs: Towards a Theory of Biased Globalization," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(1), pages 237-253.
  17. repec:rus:hseeco:122439 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. Werner Antweiler & Daniel Trefler, 2000. "Increasing Returns and All That: A View From Trade," NBER Working Papers 7941, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Desjonqueres, Thibaut & Machin, Stephen & Van Reenen, John, 1999. " Another Nail in the Coffin? Or Can the Trade Based Explanation of Changing Skill Structures Be Resurrected?," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 101(4), pages 533-554, December.
  20. Paul Krugman, 1995. "Growing World Trade: Causes and Consequences," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 26(1, 25th A), pages 327-377.
  21. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen, 2004. "Why Some Firms Export," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 561-569, May.
  22. Donald S. Siegel & Catherine J. Morrison Paul, 1999. "Scale Economies and Industry Agglomeration Externalities: A Dynamic Cost Function Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 272-290, March.
  23. Wood, Adrian, 1998. "Globalisation and the Rise in Labour Market Inequalities," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(450), pages 1463-1482, September.
  24. Luís M B Cabral & José Mata, 2003. "On the Evolution of the Firm Size Distribution: Facts and Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1075-1090, September.
  25. Per Krusell & Lee E. Ohanian & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull & Giovanni L. Violante, 1997. "Capital-skill complementarity and inequality: a macroeconomic analysis," Staff Report 239, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  26. Yeaple, Stephen & Helpman, Elhanan & Melitz, Marc, 2004. "Export versus FDI with Heterogeneous Firms," Scholarly Articles 3229098, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  27. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Directed Technical Change," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(4), pages 781-809.
  28. Bound, John & Johnson, George, 1992. "Changes in the Structure of Wages in the 1980's: An Evaluation of Alternative Explanations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 371-392, June.
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