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Trade liberalization and the evolution of skill earnings differentials in Brazil

  • Gonzaga, Gustavo
  • Menezes Filho, Naercio
  • Terra, Cristina

Skilled labor earnings differentials decreased during the trade liberalization implemented in Brazil from 1988 to 1995. This paper investigates the role of trade liberalization in explaining these relative earnings movements. We perform several independent empirical exercises that check the traditional trade transmission mechanism, using disaggregated data on tari¤s, prices, wages, employment and skill intensity. We find that: i)employment shifted from skilled to unskilled intensive sectors, and each sector increased its relative share of skilled labor; ii) relative prices fell in skill intensive sectors; iii) tariff changes across sectors were not related to skill intensities, but the pass-through from tariffs to prices was larger in skill intensive sectors; iv) the decline in skilled earnings differentials mandated by the price variation predicted by trade is very close to the observed one. The results are compatible with trade liberalization accounting for the observed relative earnings changes in Brazil.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of International Economics.

Volume (Year): 68 (2006)
Issue (Month): 2 (March)
Pages: 345-367

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Handle: RePEc:eee:inecon:v:68:y:2006:i:2:p:345-367
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505552

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  1. Gonzaga, Gustavo & Menezes Filho, Naércio Aquino & Terra, Maria Cristina T., 2005. "Trade Liberalization and the Evolution of Skill Earnings Differentials in Brazil," Economics Working Papers (Ensaios Economicos da EPGE) 585, FGV/EPGE Escola Brasileira de Economia e Finanças, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil).
  2. Alan B. Krueger, 1997. "Labor Market Shifts and the Price Puzzle Revisited," NBER Working Papers 5924, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Thoenig, Mathias & Verdier, Thierry, 2002. "A Theory of Defensive Skill-based Innovation and Globalization," CEPR Discussion Papers 3416, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  12. Jonathan E. Haskel & Matthew J. Slaughter, 2003. "Have Falling Tariffs and Transportation Costs Raised US Wage Inequality?," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(4), pages 630-650, 09.
  13. Matthew J. Slaughter, 2000. "What Are the Results of Product-Price Studies and What Can We Learn from Their Differences?," NBER Chapters, in: The Impact of International Trade on Wages, pages 129-169 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. 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.
  15. Eli Berman & John Bound & Zvi Griliches, 1993. "Changes in the Demand for Skilled Labor within U.S. Manufacturing Industries: Evidence from the Annual Survey of Manufacturing," NBER Working Papers 4255, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Beyer, Harald & Rojas, Patricio & Vergara, Rodrigo, 1999. "Trade liberalization and wage inequality," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 103-123, June.
  17. Baldwin, Robert E & Cain, Glen C, 1997. "Shifts in US Relative Wages: The Role of Trade, Technology and Factor Endowments," CEPR Discussion Papers 1596, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  18. John Romalis, 2004. "Factor Proportions and the Structure of Commodity Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 67-97, March.
  19. Berman, Eli & Bound, John & Griliches, Zvi, 1994. "Changes in the Demand for Skilled Labor within U.S. Manufacturing: Evidence from the Annual Survey of Manufactures," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(2), pages 367-97, May.
  20. Jere R. Behrman & Nancy Birdsall & Miguel Székely, 2003. "Economic Policy and Wage Differentials in Latin America," Working Papers 29, Center for Global Development.
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