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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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File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6V85-4YMPX35-1/2/ff7bb76fa34cb15cc223b7ccd089efa1
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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. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Alan B. Krueger, 1998. "Computing Inequality: Have Computers Changed The Labor Market?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1169-1213, November.
  2. Elhanan Helpman & Marc J. Melitz & Stephen R. Yeaple, 2004. "Export Versus FDI with Heterogeneous Firms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 300-316, March.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Per Krusell & Lee E. Ohanian & JosÈ-Victor RÌos-Rull & Giovanni L. Violante, 2000. "Capital-Skill Complementarity and Inequality: A Macroeconomic Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(5), pages 1029-1054, September.
  8. Robert Baldwin & Frédéric Robert-Nicoud, 2006. "Trade and growth with heterogeneous firms," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19856, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  9. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Directed Technical Change," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(4), pages 781-809.
  10. Werner Antweiler & Daniel Trefler, 2000. "Increasing Returns and All That: A View From Trade," NBER Working Papers 7941, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Andrew B. Bernard & Stephen Redding & Peter K. Schott, 2004. "Comparative advantage and heterogeneous firms," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3700, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  12. Ventura, Jaume, 1997. "Growth and Interdependence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(1), pages 57-84, February.
  13. Daron Acemoglu, 2000. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 7800, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Acemoglu, Daron, 1997. "Why Do New Technologies Complement Skills? Directed Technical Change and Wage Inequality," CEPR Discussion Papers 1707, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Ariell Reshef, 2008. "Is Technological Change Biased Towards the Unskilled in Services? An Empirical Investigation," 2008 Meeting Papers 235, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  18. repec:rus:hseeco:122439 is not listed on IDEAS
  19. Neary, J Peter, 2002. "Foreign Competition and Wage Inequality," CEPR Discussion Papers 3420, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  20. 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.
  21. Choi, E. Kwan & Harrigan, James, 2003. "Handbook of International Trade," Staff General Research Papers 11375, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  22. Kiminori Matsuyama, 2007. "Beyond Icebergs: Towards a Theory of Biased Globalization," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(1), pages 237-253.
  23. 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.
  24. Jere R. Behrman & Nancy Birdsall & Miguel Székely, 2003. "Economic Policy and Wage Differentials in Latin America," Working Papers 29, Center for Global Development.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. Cabral, Luís M B & Mata, José, 2001. "On the Evolution of the Firm Size Distribution: Facts and Theory," CEPR Discussion Papers 3045, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  28. 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.
  29. Wood, Adrian, 1998. "Globalisation and the Rise in Labour Market Inequalities," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(450), pages 1463-82, September.
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