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Skill Premium and Trade Puzzles: A Solution Linking Production and Preferences

  • Caron, Justin
  • Fally, Thibault
  • Markusen, James R.

International trade theory is a general-equilibrium discipline, yet most of the standard portfolio of research focuses on the production side of general equilibrium. In addition, we do not have a good understanding of the relationship between characteristics of goods in production and characteristics of preferences. This paper conducts an empirical investigation into the relationship between a good's factor intensity in production and its income elasticity of demand in consumption. In particular, we find a strong and significant positive relationship between skilled-labor intensity in production and income elasticity of demand for several types of preferences, with and without accounting for trade costs and differences in prices. Counter-factual simulations yield a number of results. We can explain about half of “missing trade”, and show an important role for per-capita income in understanding trade/GDP ratios, the choice of trading partners, and the composition of trade. Furthermore, an equal rise in productivity in all sectors in all countries leads to a rising skill premium in all countries, with particularly large increases in developing countries.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 8999.

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Date of creation: Jun 2012
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8999
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  1. Thibault Fally & Rodrigo Paillacar & Cristina Terra, 2008. "Economic Geography and Wages in Brazil: Evidence from Micro-Data," THEMA Working Papers 2008-23, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
  2. Hunter, Linda, 1991. "The contribution of nonhomothetic preferences to trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(3-4), pages 345-358, May.
  3. Michael Waugh & Ina Simonovska, 2010. "The Elasticity of Trade: Estimates and Evidence," 2010 Meeting Papers 637, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  4. Kiminori Matsuyama, 2000. "A Ricardian Model with a Continuum of Goods under Nonhomothetic Preferences: Demand Complementarities, Income Distribution, and North-South Trade," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(6), pages 1093-1120, December.
  5. Attanasio, Orazio & Goldberg, Pinelopi K. & Pavcnik, Nina, 2004. "Trade reforms and wage inequality in Colombia," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(2), pages 331-366, August.
  6. Markusen, James R., 2010. "Putting Per-Capita Income back into Trade Theory," CEPR Discussion Papers 7790, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Jeffrey J. Reimer & Thomas W. Hertel, 2010. "Nonhomothetic Preferences and International Trade," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(2), pages 408-425, 05.
  8. Ina Simonovska, 2011. "Income Differences and Prices of Tradables," Working Papers 1015, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  9. Hanoch, Giora, 1975. "Production and Demand Models with Direct or Indirect Implicit Additivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 43(3), pages 395-419, May.
  10. Simonovska, Ina; Waugh, Michael E., 2010. "The Elasticity of Trade: Estimates & Evidence," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 13, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  11. Inmaculada Martínez-Zarzoso & Sebastian Vollmer, 2010. "Bilateral trade flows and income-distribution similarity," Working Papers 10-06, Asociación Española de Economía y Finanzas Internacionales.
  12. Cragg, Michael Ian & Epelbaum, Mario, 1996. "Why has wage dispersion grown in Mexico? Is it the incidence of reforms or the growing demand for skills?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 99-116, October.
  13. Robert C. Feenstra & Gordon H. Hanson, 1999. "The Impact Of Outsourcing And High-Technology Capital On Wages: Estimates For The United States, 1979-1990," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 907-940, August.
  14. Markusen, James R, 1986. "Explaining the Volume of Trade: An Eclectic Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(5), pages 1002-11, December.
  15. Chao, Hung-po & Kim, Sehun & Manne, Alan S., 1982. "Computation of equilibria for nonlinear economies: Two experimental models," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 23-43, March.
  16. Trefler, Daniel, 1995. "The Case of the Missing Trade and Other Mysteries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1029-46, December.
  17. James Cassing & Shuichiro Nishioka, 2009. "Nonhomothetic Tastes and Missing Trade of Factor Services," Working Papers 09-03, Department of Economics, West Virginia University.
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