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Trends in Tariff Reforms and Trends in the Structure of Wages

Author

Listed:
  • Sebastián Galiani

    (Department of Economics, Washington University in St Louis)

  • Guido Porto

    (Development Research Group, The World Bank)

Abstract

This paper provides new evidence on the impacts of trade reforms on wages. We first introduce a model of trade that combines a non-competitive wage setting mechanism due to unions with a factor abundance hypothesis. The predictions of the model are then econometrically investigated using Argentine data. Instead of achieving identification by comparing industrial wages before and after one episode of trade liberalization, our strategy exploits the recent historical record of policy changes adopted by Argentina: from significant protection in the early 1970s, to the first episode of liberalization during the late 1970s, then back to a slowdown of reforms during the 1980s, and finally to the second episode of liberalization in the 1990s. These swings in trade policy represent broken trends in trade reforms that we can compare with observed trends in wages and wage inequality. We use unusual historical data sets of trends in tariffs, wages, and wage inequality to examine the structure of wages in Argentina and to explore how it is affected by tariff reforms. We find that i) trade liberalization, ceteris paribus, reduces wages; ii) industry tariffs reduce the industry skill premium; iii) conditional on the structure of tariffs at the industry level, the average tariff in the economy is positively associated with the aggregate skill premium. These findings suggest that the observed trends in wage inequality in Latin America can be reconciled with the Stolper-Samuelson predictions in a model with unions.

Suggested Citation

  • Sebastián Galiani & Guido Porto, 2011. "Trends in Tariff Reforms and Trends in the Structure of Wages," CEDLAS, Working Papers 0124, CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
  • Handle: RePEc:dls:wpaper:0124
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Hiau LooiKee & Alessandro Nicita & Marcelo Olarreaga, 2009. "Estimating Trade Restrictiveness Indices," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(534), pages 172-199, January.
    2. William T. Dickens & Lawrence F. Katz, 1986. "Interindustry Wage Differences and Industry Characteristics," NBER Working Papers 2014, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Atolia, Manoj, 2007. "Trade liberalization and rising wage inequality in Latin America: Reconciliation with HOS theory," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 467-494, April.
    4. Galiani, Sebastian & Sanguinetti, Pablo, 2003. "The impact of trade liberalization on wage inequality: evidence from Argentina," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 497-513, December.
    5. Robert Gibbons & Lawrence Katz, 1992. "Does Unmeasured Ability Explain Inter-Industry Wage Differentials?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(3), pages 515-535.
    6. Pavcnik, Nina, 2003. "What explains skill upgrading in less developed countries?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 311-328, August.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Trends in Tariff Reforms and Trends in the Structure of Wages
      by Maximo Rossi in Wikiprogress América Latina on 2012-03-18 18:24:00

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Trade liberalization; Stolper-Samuelson; Wage inequality; non-competitive wages and unions.;

    JEL classification:

    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions

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