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Does European Unemployment Prop Up American Wages?

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  • Davis, Donald

Abstract

We consider trade between a flexible wage America and a rigid real wage Europe. In a benchmark case, a move from autarky to free trade doubles the European unemployment rate, while it raises the American unskilled wage to the high European level. Entry of the unskilled "South" to world markets raises =employment in Europe. But Europe's commitment to the high wage completely insulates America from the shock. Immigration to America raises American income, but lowers European income dollar-for-dollar, while European unemployment rises onefor- one. We consider a stylized game of the choice of factor market institutions. Mitterrand's Europe chooses a high minimum wage and Reagan's America chooses a flexible wage for the unskilled. Paradoxically, unskilled workers are worse off in Europe. Trade equalizes wages, but Europeans bear all of the unemployment required to sustain the high wage.

Suggested Citation

  • Davis, Donald, 1996. "Does European Unemployment Prop Up American Wages?," Harvard Institute for International Development (HIID) Papers 294370, Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:hariid:294370
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.294370
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    Cited by:

    1. Robert C. Feenstra, 1998. "Integration of Trade and Disintegration of Production in the Global Economy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 31-50, Fall.
    2. Davis, Donald R., 1998. "Technology, unemployment, and relative wages in a global economy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(9), pages 1613-1633, November.
    3. Robert C. Feenstra, 1998. "Integration of Trade and Disintegration of Production in the Global Economy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 31-50, Fall.
    4. Sébastien Jean, 2000. "The Effect of International Trade on Labor‐Demand Elasticities: Intersectoral Matters," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 8(3), pages 504-516, August.
    5. Davidson, Carl & Martin, Lawrence & Matusz, Steven, 1999. "Trade and search generated unemployment," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 271-299, August.
    6. Guido G. Porto, 2008. "Agro-Manufactured Export Prices, Wages and Unemployment," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 90(3), pages 748-764.
    7. Robbins, Donald J., 2003. "The impact of trade liberalization upon inequality in developing countries : a review of theory and evidence," ILO Working Papers 993650553402676, International Labour Organization.
    8. Bernhard Heitger & Jürgen Stehn, 2003. "Trade, Technical Change, and Labour Market Adjustment," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 26(10), pages 1481-1502, November.
    9. Gustavo Gonzaga & Beatriz Muriel & Cristina Terra, 2005. "Abertura Comercial, Desigualdade Salarial E Sindicalização," Anais do XXXIII Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 33rd Brazilian Economics Meeting] 073, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pós-Graduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
    10. repec:ilo:ilowps:365055 is not listed on IDEAS

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