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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
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  1. Eli Berman & John Bound & Stephen Machin, 1997. "Implications of Skill-Biased Technological Change: International Evidence," NBER Working Papers 6166, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. 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.
  3. Gordon H. Hanson & Ann Harrison, 1999. "Trade Liberalization and Wage Inequality in Mexico," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 52(2), pages 271-288, January.
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