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Trade liberalisation, skill-biased technical change and wages in developing countries: a model with heterogeneous firms

  • Mauro Caselli

This paper analyses the effects of trade liberalisation and technical change on real and relative wages. It builds a model with monopolistic competition, heterogeneous firms and two countries, North and South, and solves it numerically. Skill-biased technical change, caused by decreases in the price of imported equipment as a result of reduced trade costs or falls in its world price, tends to increase the relative wages of skilled workers. This increase in the skill premium can occur even in skill-scarce developing countries, as has often been observed in reality, even though Stolper-Samuelson effects pull the other way. What drives the rise in skilled wages when imported equipment becomes cheaper is the rise in demand for skilled workers in the most productive firms in each sector. Whether or not real unskilled wages increase absolutely after trade liberalisation appears to depend on whether trade costs are ad valorem or per-unit.

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Paper provided by Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford in its series CSAE Working Paper Series with number 2010-27.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2010-27
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  1. Feenstra, Robert C. & Hanson, Gordon H., 1997. "Foreign direct investment and relative wages: Evidence from Mexico's maquiladoras," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-4), pages 371-393, May.
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  12. Elena Meschi & Erol Taymaz & Marco Vivarelli, 2010. "Trade, Technology And Skills: Evidence From Turkish Microdata," DISCE - Quaderni del Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche e Sociali dises1062, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Dipartimenti e Istituti di Scienze Economiche (DISCE).
  13. Gonzague Vannoorenberghe, 2011. "Trade between symmetric countries, heterogeneous firms, and the skill premium," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 44(1), pages 148-170, February.
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  15. Alberto Behar, 2009. "Directed technical change, the elasticity of substitution and wage inequality in developing countries," Economics Series Working Papers 467, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  16. Mauro Caselli, 2010. "Trade, skill-biased technical change and wages in Mexican manufacturing," Economics Series Working Papers CSAE WPS/2010-28, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  17. Adrian Wood, 2002. "Globalization and wage inequalities: A synthesis of three theories," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 138(1), pages 54-82, March.
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