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International Trade and Horizontal Inequalities: Conceptual and Empirical Linkages

Listed author(s):
  • Arnim Langer

    (University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.)

  • Frances Stewart

    (Oxford Department of International Development, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.)

This article develops a general framework for considering the relationship between international trade and horizontal inequalities. Horizontal inequalities (inequalities between ‘culturally’ defined groups) affect people's well-being and can lead to violent conflicts. They are the product of historic influences, but are also affected by current economic developments, including trade policies. The main determinant of the relationship between trade and horizontal inequalities is economic specialisation by group in relation to the structure of exports. Six examples illustrate this. They show the large influence of colonial policy on current horizontal inequalities. Trade liberalisation has tended to enlarge horizontal inequalities, as export expansion has been largely in products produced by relatively privileged groups. However, the Malaysian experience, where the government policy has aimed to change the ethnic division of labour, through education, employment and industrial policies, shows that this is not inevitable but can be mitigated through deliberate and comprehensive policies.Cet article développe un cadre général pour examiner la relation entre le commerce international et les inégalités horizontales. Les inégalités horizontales (inégalités entre les groupes ‘culturels’) affectent le bien-être et peuvent conduire à des conflits violents. Elles sont le produit d′influences historiques, mais également des développements économiques actuels, et notamment des politiques commerciales. Le principal déterminant de la relation entre le commerce et les inégalités horizontales est la spécialisation économique par groupe selon la structure des exportations. Six examples de cas illustrent ceci. Ils montrent la grande influence de la politique coloniale sur les inégalités horizontales actuelles. Dans la mesure où l′expansion des exportations a principalement concerné les produits fabriqués par des groupes relativement privilégiés, la libéralisation des échanges a eu tendance à augmenter les inégalités horizontales. Toutefois, l′expérience de la Malaisie, où la politique gouvernementale visait à modifier la division ethnique du travail grâce à des politiques industrielle, d′éducation et d′emploi, montre que ce n′est pas une fatalité, mais peut être vaincu par des politiques déterminées et englobantes.

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Article provided by Palgrave Macmillan & European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI) in its journal European Journal of Development Research.

Volume (Year): 24 (2012)
Issue (Month): 5 (December)
Pages: 665-687

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Handle: RePEc:pal:eurjdr:v:24:y:2012:i:5:p:665-687
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