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Do Low-Income Countries Have a High-Wage Option?

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  • Rodrik, Dani

Abstract

Poor countries must specialize in standardized, labour-intensive commodities. Middle-income countries may have a richer menu of options available to them if their labour force is reasonably well-educated and skilled. This paper is motivated by the possibility that there may exist multiple specialization patterns for countries of the second type. What creates the multiplicity of equilibria is a coordination problem inherent in high-tech activities. It is assumed that high-tech production requires a range of differentiated intermediate inputs that are non-tradable. For the high-tech sector to become viable, a sufficiently large number of intermediates has to be produced domestically. But if none is currently being produced, there is little incentive for any single firm to do so on its own. The economy may get stuck in a low-wage, low-tech equilibrium -- even though the high-tech sector is viable. As long as the high-tech sector is more capital-intensive than the low-tech sector, a high-wage policy would stimulate the high-tech sector and be welfare-enhancing.

Suggested Citation

  • Rodrik, Dani, 1994. "Do Low-Income Countries Have a High-Wage Option?," CEPR Discussion Papers 862, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:862
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Kimakova, Alena & Rajabiun, Reza, 1999. "An Applied General Equilibrium Analysis of EU Integration for Hungary and Slovakia," Transition Economics Series 9, Institute for Advanced Studies.
    2. Carla Berke & Harald Trabold, 1995. ""Low-cost" oder "High-tech"?: Strategische Außenwirtschaftsoptionen für die mittel- und osteuropäischen Länder," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 124, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Technology; Trade Strategy; Wage Policy;

    JEL classification:

    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation

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