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Trade, Education, and the Shrinking Middle Class

  • Emily Blanchard
  • Gerald Willmann

We develop a new model of trade in which educational institutions drive comparative advantage and determine the distribution of human capital within and across countries. Our framework exploits a multiplicity of sectors and the continuous support of human capital choices to demonstrate that freer trade can induce crowding out of the middle occupations towards the skill acquisition extremes in one country, and simultaneous expansion of middle-income industries in another. Individual gains from trade may be non-monotonic in workers’ ability, and middle ability agents can lose the most from trade liberalization. Comparing trade and education policy, we find that targeted education subsidies are more effective than tariffs as a means to preserve “middle class” jobs, while uniform educational subsidies have no effect.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 4141.

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Date of creation: 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4141
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  1. Volker Nocke & Stephen Yeaple, 2004. "An Assignment Theory of Foreign Direct Investment," PIER Working Paper Archive 05-003, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
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  13. Dornbusch, Rudiger & Fischer, Stanley & Samuelson, Paul A, 1977. "Comparative Advantage, Trade, and Payments in a Ricardian Model with a Continuum of Goods," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(5), pages 823-39, December.
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  15. repec:ema:worpap:2008-21 is not listed on IDEAS
  16. V.N. Balasubramanyam, 2008. "Foreign Direct Investment," Chapters, in: International Handbook of Development Economics, Volumes 1 & 2, chapter 39 Edward Elgar.
  17. Maarten Goos & Alan Manning, 2003. "Lousy and Lovely Jobs: the Rising Polarization of Work in Britain," CEP Discussion Papers dp0604, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
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