IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Market Imperfections, Wealth Inequality, and the Distribution of Trade Gains

  • Foellmi, Reto
  • Oechslin, Manuel

Globalization increasingly involves less-developed countries (LDCs), i.e., economies which usually suffer from severe imperfections in their financial systems. Taking these imperfections seriously, we analyze how credit frictions affect the distributive impact of trade liberalizations. We find that free trade significantly widens income differences among firm owners in LDCs: While wealthy entrepreneurs are better off, relatively poor business people lose. Intuitively, with integrated markets, profit margins shrink -- which makes access to credit particularly difficult for the least affluent agents. Richer entrepreneurs, by contrast, win because they can take advantage of new export opportunities. Our findings resonate well with a number of empirical regularities, in particular with the observation that some liberalizing LDCs have observed a surge in top-income shares.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7520.

in new window

Date of creation: Oct 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7520
Contact details of provider: Postal: Centre for Economic Policy Research, 77 Bastwick Street, London EC1V 3PZ.
Phone: 44 - 20 - 7183 8801
Fax: 44 - 20 - 7183 8820

Order Information: Email:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Lopez-Acevedo, Gladys & Salinas, Angel, 2000. "How Mexico's financial crisis affected income distribution," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2406, The World Bank.
  2. Rieber, William J, 1982. "Discriminating Monopoly and International Trade," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 92(366), pages 365-76, June.
  3. Baldwin, Richard & Forslid, Rikard, 2004. "Trade Liberalization with Heterogenous Firms," CEPR Discussion Papers 4635, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Bernard, Andrew B. & Jensen, J Bradford & Redding, Stephen J. & Schott, Peter K., 2007. "Firms in International Trade," CEPR Discussion Papers 6277, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Will Martin & Aaditya Mattoo, 2010. "The Doha Development Agenda: What's on the table?," The Journal of International Trade & Economic Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(1), pages 81-107.
  6. Bourguignon, F. & Morrisson, C., 1989. "Income Distribution, Development and Foreign Trade: A Cross-Sectional Analysis," DELTA Working Papers 89-05, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  7. Banerjee, Abhijit V. & Duflo, Esther, 2005. "Growth Theory through the Lens of Development Economics," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 7, pages 473-552 Elsevier.
  8. Foellmi, Reto & Oechslin, Manuel, 2008. "Why progressive redistribution can hurt the poor," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(3-4), pages 738-747, April.
  9. Gollin, Douglas, 2008. "Nobody's business but my own: Self-employment and small enterprise in economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 219-233, March.
  10. repec:oup:qjecon:v:116:y:2001:i:2:p:563-606 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. Marc J. Melitz & Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano, 2005. "Market Size, Trade, and Productivity," NBER Working Papers 11393, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Stanley L. Engerman & Kenneth Lee Sokoloff, 2002. "Factor Endowments, Inequality, and Paths of Development Among New World Economies," ECONOMIA JOURNAL OF THE LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION, ECONOMIA JOURNAL OF THE LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION, vol. 0(Fall 2002), pages 41-110, August.
  13. Marc J. Melitz, 2003. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(6), pages 1695-1725, November.
  14. Margaret McMillan, 2001. "Why Kill The Golden Goose? A Political-Economy Model Of Export Taxation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(1), pages 170-184, February.
  15. Enrique G. Mendoza & Vincenzo Quadrini & José-Victor Ríos-Rull, 2007. "On the Welfare Implications of Financial Globalization without Financial Development," NBER Working Papers 13412, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. repec:oup:restud:v:67:y:2000:i:4:p:743-59 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. Petia Topalova, 2005. "Trade Liberalization, Poverty, and Inequality: Evidence from Indian Districts," NBER Working Papers 11614, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Townsend, Robert M., 1979. "Optimal contracts and competitive markets with costly state verification," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 265-293, October.
  19. Easterly, William, 2001. " The Middle Class Consensus and Economic Development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 6(4), pages 317-35, December.
  20. James Tybout, 1999. "Manufacturing Firms in Developing Countries: How Well Do They Do, and Why?," Development and Comp Systems 9906001, EconWPA, revised 10 Jun 1999.
  21. Grossman, G.M. & Helpman, E., 1992. "Protection for Sale," Papers 162, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
  22. Leff, Nathaniel H, 1978. "Industrial Organization and Entrepreneurship in the Developing Countries: The Economic Groups," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(4), pages 661-75, July.
  23. Rafael LaPorta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, . "Law and Finance," Working Paper 19451, Harvard University OpenScholar.
  24. King, Robert G. & Levine, Ross, 1993. "Finance and growth : Schumpeter might be right," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1083, The World Bank.
  25. Krugman, Paul, 1979. "A Model of Innovation, Technology Transfer, and the World Distribution of Income," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(2), pages 253-66, April.
  26. Sofronis Clerides & Saul Lach & James Tybout, 1996. "Is "learning-by-exporting" important? Micro-dynamic evidence from Colombia, Mexico and Morocco," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 96-30, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  27. Foellmi, Reto & Zweimuller, Josef, 2004. "Inequality, market power, and product diversity," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 139-145, January.
  28. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:113:y:1998:i:3:p:903-947 is not listed on IDEAS
  29. Roland Benabou, 1996. "Inequality and Growth," NBER Working Papers 5658, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  30. repec:oup:qjecon:v:117:y:2002:i:1:p:1-37 is not listed on IDEAS
  31. Nugent, Jeffrey B. & Nabli, Mustapha K., 1992. "Development of financial markets and the size distribution of manufacturing establishments: International comparisons," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 20(10), pages 1489-1499, October.
  32. Deininger, Klaus & Olinto, Pedro, 2000. "Asset distribution, inequality, and growth," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2375, The World Bank.
  33. repec:oup:qjecon:v:108:y:1993:i:3:p:717-37 is not listed on IDEAS
  34. L Alan Winters, 2004. "Trade Liberalisation and Economic Performance: An Overview," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(493), pages F4-F21, 02.
  35. Dani Rodrik, 1988. "Imperfect Competition, Scale Economies, and Trade Policy in Developing Countries," NBER Chapters, in: Trade Policy Issues and Empirical Analysis, pages 109-144 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  36. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:108:y:1993:i:3:p:717-37 is not listed on IDEAS
  37. repec:oup:qjecon:v:113:y:1998:i:3:p:903-947 is not listed on IDEAS
  38. Beck, Thorsten & Levine, Ross & Loayza, Norman, 1999. "Finance and the sources of growth," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2057, The World Bank.
  39. R. Hirschowitz, 1989. "The Other Path: The Invisible Revolution in the Third World," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 57(4), pages 266-272, December.
  40. Dixit, Avinash, 1984. "International Trade Policy for Oligopolistic Industries," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 94(376a), pages 1-16, Supplemen.
  41. Mayer, Wolfgang, 1984. "Endogenous Tariff Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(5), pages 970-85, December.
  42. Abhijit Banerjee & Thomas Piketty, 2005. "Top Indian Incomes, 1922-2000," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 19(1), pages 1-20.
  43. Bhattacharya, Utpal & Ravikumar, B, 2001. "Capital Markets and the Evolution of Family Businesses," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 74(2), pages 187-219, April.
  44. Limao, Nuno & Panagariya, Arvind, 2007. "Inequality and endogenous trade policy outcomes," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 292-309, July.
  45. Sleuwaegen, Leo & Goedhuys, Micheline, 2002. "Growth of firms in developing countries, evidence from Cote d'Ivoire," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 117-135, June.
  46. Mead, Donald C. & Liedholm, Carl, 1998. "The dynamics of micro and small enterprises in developing countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 61-74, January.
  47. Robert C. Feenstra & Gene M. Grossman & Douglas A. Irwin (ed.), 1996. "The Political Economy of Trade Policy: Papers in Honor of Jagdish Bhagwati," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262061864, June.
  48. Deininger, Klaus & Squire, Lyn, 1998. "New ways of looking at old issues: inequality and growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 259-287.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7520. 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: ()

The email address of this maintainer does not seem to be valid anymore. Please ask to update the entry or send us the correct address

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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.