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The Distribution of Talent and the Pattern and Consequences of International Trade

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  • Gene M. Grossman

Abstract

I study the interaction between imperfect labor contracts and international trade in a setting in which workers have private information about their own abilities. When an individual's contribution to firm output can be measured accurately in some activities but not in others, the most able workers select occupations in which their pay most closely reflects their own performance. In a world economy with two otherwise similar countries that have different distributions of talent, the country with the more heterogeneous labor force exports the good that is produced by the most talented individuals. In this country, trade exacerbates the "polarization" of the labor force and often worsens the distribution of income.

Suggested Citation

  • Gene M. Grossman, 2004. "The Distribution of Talent and the Pattern and Consequences of International Trade," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(1), pages 209-239, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:112:y:2004:i:1:p:209-239
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Clemenz, Gerhard, 1995. " Adverse Selection in Labor Markets and International Trade," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 97(1), pages 73-88, March.
    2. Weiss, Andrew W, 1980. "Job Queues and Layoffs in Labor Markets with Flexible Wages," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(3), pages 526-538, June.
    3. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1990. "The Economics of Modern Manufacturing: Technology, Strategy, and Organization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 511-528, June.
    4. Ruffin, Roy J, 1988. "The Missing Link: The Ricardian Approach to the Factor Endowments Theory of Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 759-772, September.
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