IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Are the Poverty Effects of Trade Policies Invisible?


  • Monika Verma

    () (Center for Global Trade Analysis, Department of Agricultural Economics, Purdue University)

  • Thomas Hertel

    () (Center for Global Trade Analysis, Department of Agricultural Economics, Purdue University)

  • Ernesto Valenzuela

    () (Centre for International Economic Studies, School of Economics, University of Adelaide)


Beginning with the WTO's Doha Development Agenda and establishment of the Millennium Development Goal of reducing poverty by 50 percent by 2015, poverty impacts of trade reforms have become central to the global development agenda. This has been particularly true of agricultural trade reforms due to the importance of grains in the diets of the poor, presence of relatively higher protection in agriculture, as well as heavy concentration of global poverty in rural areas where agriculture is the main source of income. Yet some in this debate have argued that, given the extreme volatility in agricultural commodity markets, the additional price and therefore poverty impacts due to trade liberalization might well be barely discernible. This paper formally tests this invisibility hypothesis using the method of stochastic simulation in a trade-poverty modeling framework. The hypothesis test is based on the comparison of two samples of price and poverty distributions. The first originates solely from the inherent variability in global staple grains markets, while the second combines the effects of inherent market variability with those of trade reform in these same markets. Results, at both national and stratum levels, indicate that the short-run poverty impacts of full trade liberalization in staple grains trade worldwide are not distinguishable in the majority of cases, suggesting that the poverty impacts of more modest (and realistic) agricultural trade liberalization are indeed likely to be statistically invisible. This does not mean that such reforms are economically unimportant. Rather it is a direct consequence of the high degree of volatility in agricultural commodity markets.

Suggested Citation

  • Monika Verma & Thomas Hertel & Ernesto Valenzuela, 2011. "Are the Poverty Effects of Trade Policies Invisible?," School of Economics Working Papers 2011-14, University of Adelaide, School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:adl:wpaper:2011-14

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. William R. Cline, 2004. "Trade Policy and Global Poverty," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 379.
    2. Thomas W. Hertel & Roman Keeney & Maros Ivanic & L. Alan Winters, 2015. "Why Isn't the Doha Development Agenda more Poverty Friendly?," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: Non-Tariff Barriers, Regionalism and Poverty Essays in Applied International Trade Analysis, chapter 18, pages 375-391 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    3. Tyers,Rod & Anderson,Kym, 2011. "Disarray in World Food Markets," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521172318, March.
    4. Cranfield, J. A. L. & Preckel, Paul V. & Eales, James S. & Hertel, Thomas W., 2004. "Simultaneous estimation of an implicit directly additive demand system and the distribution of expenditure--an application of maximum entropy," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 361-385, March.
    5. Ivanic, Maros & Martin, Will, 2008. "Implications of higher global food prices for poverty in low-income countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4594, The World Bank.
    6. Arndt, Channing, 1996. "An Introduction to Systematic Sensitivity Analysis via Gaussian Quadrature," GTAP Technical Papers 305, Center for Global Trade Analysis, Department of Agricultural Economics, Purdue University.
    7. Keeney, Roman & Thomas Hertel, 2005. "GTAP-AGR : A Framework for Assessing the Implications of Multilateral Changes in Agricultural Policies," GTAP Technical Papers 1869, Center for Global Trade Analysis, Department of Agricultural Economics, Purdue University.
    8. Maros Ivanic & Will Martin, 2008. "Implications of higher global food prices for poverty in low-income countries-super-1," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 39(s1), pages 405-416, November.
    9. DeVuyst, Eric A. & Preckel, Paul V., 1997. "Sensitivity analysis revisited: A quadrature-based approach," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 175-185, April.
    10. Ivanic, Maros, 2004. "Reconciliation of the GTAP and Household Survey Data," GTAP Research Memoranda 1408, Center for Global Trade Analysis, Department of Agricultural Economics, Purdue University.
    11. David O’Connor & Maria Rosa Lunati, 1999. "Economic Opening and the Demand for Skills in Developing Countries: A Review of Theory and Evidence," OECD Development Centre Working Papers 149, OECD Publishing.
    12. Alós-Ferrer, Carlos & Weidenholzer, Simon, 2008. "Contagion and efficiency," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 143(1), pages 251-274, November.
    13. Hertel, Thomas W. & Keeney, Roman & Valenzuela, Ernesto, 2004. "Global Analysis Of Agricultural Trade Liberalization: Assessing Model Validity," 2004 Annual meeting, August 1-4, Denver, CO 20199, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Artavia, Marco & Grethe, Harald & Zimmermann, Georg, 2015. "Stochastic market modeling with Gaussian Quadratures: Do rotations of Stroud's octahedron matter?," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 155-168.
    2. Verma, Monika & Hertel, Thomas W. & Preckel, Paul V., 2011. "Predicting within country household food expenditure variation using international cross-section estimates," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 113(3), pages 218-220.

    More about this item


    Trade policy reform; agricultural trade; computable general equilibrium; developing countries; poverty headcount; volatility; stochastic simulation; non-parametric hypothesis testing.;

    JEL classification:

    • C12 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Hypothesis Testing: General
    • C68 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Computable General Equilibrium Models
    • F17 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Forecasting and Simulation
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • Q17 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agriculture in International Trade
    • R20 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - General

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:adl:wpaper:2011-14. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Eran Binenbaum). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.