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Labour Mobility, Capital-Skill Complementarity and the Redistributive Effects of Trade Integration


  • Carlo Devillanova

    (Bocconi University, Milano, Italy.)

  • Michele Di Maio

    (University of Macerata, Italy.)

  • Pietro Vertova

    (University of Bergamo, Italy.)


This paper addresses the role of mobility costs in shaping the effects of trade integration on wage inequality and welfare. We present a three-factor, two-sector model in which the production technology exhibits capital-skill complementarity and the cost of moving across sectors differs between unskilled and skilled workers. We consider a proportional tax on skilled workers’ wage that is used to finance a re-training program to reduce the mobility costs of unskilled workers. We show that if the training program is sufficiently effective, a positive tax rate can both reduce wage inequalities and reinforce the welfare-enhancing effects of trade integration. In addition we show that, even when the public programme entails some welfare losses, it can make trade integration Pareto superior with respect to autarky.

Suggested Citation

  • Carlo Devillanova & Michele Di Maio & Pietro Vertova, 2006. "Labour Mobility, Capital-Skill Complementarity and the Redistributive Effects of Trade Integration," KITeS Working Papers 188, KITeS, Centre for Knowledge, Internationalization and Technology Studies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy, revised Nov 2006.
  • Handle: RePEc:cri:cespri:wp188

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    Capital-Skill Complementarity; Intersectoral Labour Mobility; Wage In-equality; Trade Integration.;

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population

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