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Trade, skill-biased technical change and wages in Mexican manufacturing

  • Mauro Caselli

This paper analyses and quantifies the effects of trade liberalisation and skill-biased technical change, both exogenous and trade-induced, on the skill premium and real wages of unskilled and skilled workers in theMexican manufacturing sector, using industry- and firm-level data for 1984-1990 from the Encuesta Industrial Anual. The novelty of the paper lies in its strategy for identifying causality, which uses differences across industries over time in the relative price of machinery and equipment in the US as an instrument for skill-biased technical change. The effect of trade-induced SBTC on wages, and especially on wage inequality, appears substantial. The regressions show that trade liberalisation and changes in the relative price of equipment in the US, which induce exogenous SBTC in Mexico, explain one quarter of the increase in relative skilled wages between 1984 and 1990. This rise in the skill premium due to SBTC and trade liberalisation mainly reflect a rise in real skilled wages, although with some specifications it was amplified by a fall in the real wages of unskilled workers.

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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 2010-28.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2010-28
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  1. David Atkin, 2012. "Endogenous Skill Acquisition and Export Manufacturing in Mexico," NBER Working Papers 18266, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. 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.
  3. Gordon H. Hanson & Ann Harrison, 1999. "Trade liberalization and wage inequality in Mexico," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 52(2), pages 271-288, January.
  4. Verhoogen, Eric A, 2007. "Trade, Quality Upgrading and Wage Inequality in the Mexican Manufacturing Sector," CEPR Discussion Papers 6385, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. 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).
  6. 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.
  7. Bernard, Andrew B. & Redding, Stephen J. & Schott, Peter K., 2004. "Comparative Advantage and Heterogenous Firms," CEPR Discussion Papers 4622, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Gonzaga, Gustavo & Menezes Filho, Naércio Aquino & Terra, Maria Cristina T., 2005. "Trade Liberalization and the Evolution of Skill Earnings Differentials in Brazil," Economics Working Papers (Ensaios Economicos da EPGE) 585, FGV/EPGE Escola Brasileira de Economia e Finanças, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil).
  9. Daron Acemoglu, 2003. "Patterns of Skill Premia," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(2), pages 199-230.
  10. Ariel Burstein & Jonathan Vogel, 2010. "Globalization, Technology, and the Skill Premium: A Quantitative Analysis," NBER Working Papers 16459, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Adriaan Ten Kate, 1989. "Notas Sobre La Apertura Comercial De Mexico, Experiencias Y Lecciones," ENSAYOS SOBRE POLÍTICA ECONÓMICA, BANCO DE LA REPÚBLICA - ESPE.
  12. Andrew B. Bernard & Stephen J. Redding & Peter K. Schott, 2006. "Multi-Product Firms and Trade Liberalization," NBER Working Papers 12782, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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.
  14. Mary Amiti & Jozef Konings, 2005. "Trade Liberalization, Intermediate Inputs, and Productivity; Evidence From Indonesia," IMF Working Papers 05/146, International Monetary Fund.
  15. Berman, Eli & Bound, John & Griliches, Zvi, 1994. "Changes in the Demand for Skilled Labor within U.S. Manufacturing: Evidence from the Annual Survey of Manufactures," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(2), pages 367-97, May.
  16. Leonardi, Marco, 2003. "Firm Heterogeneity in Capital/Labor Ratios and Wage Inequality," IZA Discussion Papers 909, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  17. Ten Kate, Adriaan, 1992. "Trade liberalization and economic stabilization in Mexico: Lessons of experience," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 20(5), pages 659-672, May.
  18. Daron Acemoglu, 2000. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 7800, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Anderson, Edward, 2005. "Openness and inequality in developing countries: A review of theory and recent evidence," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 33(7), pages 1045-1063, July.
  20. Esquivel, Gerardo & Rodriguez-Lopez, Jose Antonio, 2003. "Technology, trade, and wage inequality in Mexico before and after NAFTA," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 543-565, December.
  21. Berman, Eli & Machin, Stephen, 2000. "Skill-Based Technology Transfer around the World," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(3), pages 12-22, Autumn.
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