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Equality through exposure to imports? International trade and the racial wage gap


  • Azim Essaji
  • Gregory Sweeney
  • Alexandros Kotsopoulos


A key implication of Becker's (1957) work on discrimination is that greater product market competition can reduce employment discrimination generally, and discriminatory wage gaps in particular. Using US data on manufacturing wages and import exposure, we explore whether increased competition, in the form of a heightened exposure to imports, reduces the racial wage gap. Our findings support Becker's contention. We find that import exposure helped narrow the racial wage gap by about 1.4 percentage points between 1983 and 1993. The effect is especially pronounced among the most disadvantaged: unskilled Southern workers. For them, import exposure helped reduce racial wage disparities by 2.2 percentage points.

Suggested Citation

  • Azim Essaji & Gregory Sweeney & Alexandros Kotsopoulos, 2010. "Equality through exposure to imports? International trade and the racial wage gap," Journal of Economic Policy Reform, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(4), pages 313-323.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jpolrf:v:13:y:2010:i:4:p:313-323
    DOI: 10.1080/17487870.2010.523968

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