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Firm heterogeneity, trade, and wage inequality

  • 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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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
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  1. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Alan B. Krueger, 1997. "Computing Inequality: Have Computers Changed the Labor Market?," NBER Working Papers 5956, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. 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.
  3. Andrew B. Bernard & Jonathan Eaton & J. Bradford Jensen & Samuel Kortum, 2003. "Plants and Productivity in International Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1268-1290, September.
  4. Baldwin, Richard E. & Robert-Nicoud, Frederic, 2008. "Trade and growth with heterogeneous firms," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(1), pages 21-34, January.
  5. Kiminori Matsuyama, 2007. "Beyond Icebergs: Towards a Theory of Biased Globalization," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(1), pages 237-253.
  6. Marc J. Melitz, 2003. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(6), pages 1695-1725, November.
  7. 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 371-92, June.
  8. Paolo Epifani & Gino Gancia, 2004. "The skill bias of world trade," Economics Working Papers 833, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Mar 2007.
  9. Andrew Bernard & Stephen Redding & Peter Schott, 2004. "Comparative advantage and heterogeneous firms," IFS Working Papers W04/24, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  10. 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 533-54, December.
  11. Lawrence F. Katz & Kevin M. Murphy, 1992. "Changes in Relative Wages, 1963–1987: Supply and Demand Factors," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 35-78.
  12. Werner Antweiler & Daniel Trefler, 2000. "Increasing Returns and All That: A View From Trade," NBER Working Papers 7941, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. 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.
  14. Wood, Adrian, 1998. "Globalisation and the Rise in Labour Market Inequalities," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(450), pages 1463-82, September.
  15. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(1), pages 7-72, March.
  16. 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.
  17. Neary, J Peter, 2002. "Foreign Competition and Wage Inequality," CEPR Discussion Papers 3420, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  18. 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.
  19. Yeaple, Stephen & Helpman, Elhanan & Melitz, Marc, 2004. "Export versus FDI with Heterogeneous Firms," Scholarly Articles 3229098, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  20. Choi, E. Kwan & Harrigan, James, 2003. "Handbook of International Trade," Staff General Research Papers Archive 11375, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  21. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Directed Technical Change," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(4), pages 781-809.
  22. J Bradford Jensen & Andrew B Bernard, 2001. "Why Some Firms Export," Working Papers 01-05, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  23. repec:rus:hseeco:122439 is not listed on IDEAS
  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. Jere R. Behrman & Nancy Birdsall & Miguel Székely, 2003. "Economic Policy and Wage Differentials in Latin America," Working Papers 29, Center for Global Development.
  26. Antonio Ciccone & Giovanni Peri, 2004. "Long-run substitutability between more and less educated workers: Evidence from U.S. States 1950-1990," Economics Working Papers 764, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  27. 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.
  28. Jaume Ventura, 1997. "Growth and Interdependence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(1), pages 57-84.
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