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Heterogeneous trade costs and wage inequality: A model of two globalizations

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  • Basco, Sergi
  • Mestieri, Martí

Abstract

We develop a model for analyzing the distributional effects of two globalizations and their interdependence. We distinguish between two trade cost reductions, (i) trade liberalizations in the 1980s, which increased trade in low-skill-intensive goods (denoted L-globalization) and (ii) reductions in communication costs due to the IT revolution, which raised trade in middle-skill-intensive goods during the 1990s (denoted C-globalization). We consider a North–south trade economy in which the North is skill abundant. A freely traded final good is produced using high-skill services and a bundle of inputs. Inputs differ on the intensity of middle- and low-skill workers required to be produced, and are subject to heterogeneous trade costs. In the North, we find that wage inequality increases in the L-globalization. During the C-globalization, wage polarization emerges. The relative wage of high- to middle-skill workers increases, while the relative wage of middle- to low-skill workers is hump-shaped. We find a complementarity between the two globalizations. Wage polarization is delayed by the extent of trade in the L-globalization. In the South, we find that wage inequality increases in both globalizations. Finally, we show how asymmetric participation in the C-globalization of two southern countries generates a discontinuous pattern of specialization. The southern country participating in the C-globalization specializes in the least and most skill-intensive traded inputs.

Suggested Citation

  • Basco, Sergi & Mestieri, Martí, 2013. "Heterogeneous trade costs and wage inequality: A model of two globalizations," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2), pages 393-406.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:inecon:v:89:y:2013:i:2:p:393-406
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jinteco.2012.09.003
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    Cited by:

    1. Sebastian Sotelo & Javier Cravino, 2016. "Trade-Induced Structural Change and the Skill Premium," 2016 Meeting Papers 1690, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Robert C. Feenstra, 2017. "Statistics to Measure Offshoring and its Impact," NBER Working Papers 23067, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Basco, Sergi & Mestieri, Marti, 2014. "The World Income Distribution: The Effects of International Unbundling of Production," TSE Working Papers 14-531, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Nov 2014.
    4. Basco, Sergi & Mestieri, Marti, 2013. "Mergers along the Global Supply Chain: Information Technologies and Routineness," TSE Working Papers 13-428, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Nov 2013.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Globalization; Wage inequality; Wage polarization; Pattern of specialization;

    JEL classification:

    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
    • F11 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Neoclassical Models of Trade

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