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Trade Costs, International Competition and Selection: The Effects of Unionisation on Market Size


  • Catia Montagna
  • Antonella Nocco


Within a two-country model of international trade in which heterogeneous firms face firm-specific unions, we study the effects of different forms of trade liberalisation on market structure and competitive selection in the presence of inter-country asymmetries in size and labour market institutions. For given levels of trade openness, an increase in a country’s relative unions’ strength reduces the average productivity of its domestic producers but increases that of its exporters. Whilst an unfavourable union power differential, by increasing wages, weakens a country’s firms’ competitive position, the higher wages reinforce standard market access mechanisms to give rise to aggregate income effects. When the initial levels of trade openness are sufficiently low, this ‘expansionary’ aggregate effect can attract industry in the country with stronger unions and also result in an increase in the extensive margin of exports. For sufficiently large inter-country differences in the bargaining power of unions, trade liberalization can then result in a pro-variety effect, with an increase in the total availability of varieties to consumers in both countries, regardless of there being inter-country differences in size.

Suggested Citation

  • Catia Montagna & Antonella Nocco, 2012. "Trade Costs, International Competition and Selection: The Effects of Unionisation on Market Size," Dundee Discussion Papers in Economics 269, Economic Studies, University of Dundee.
  • Handle: RePEc:dun:dpaper:269

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. DEL GATTO, Massimo & MION, Giordano & OTTAVIANO, Gianmarco I.P., 2006. "Trade integration, firm selection and the costs of non-Europe," CORE Discussion Papers 2006061, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    2. Andrew B. Bernard & Jonathan Eaton & J. Bradford Jensen & Samuel Kortum, 2003. "Plants and Productivity in International Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1268-1290, September.
    3. Elhanan Helpman, 2006. "Trade, FDI, and the Organization of Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 44(3), pages 589-630, September.
    4. Elhanan Helpman & Oleg Itskhoki, 2010. "Labour Market Rigidities, Trade and Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(3), pages 1100-1137.
    5. Catia Montagna & Antonella Nocco, 2013. "Unionization, international integration, and selection," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 46(1), pages 23-45, February.
    6. 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.
    7. Hartmut Egger & Udo Kreickemeier, 2017. "Firm Heterogeneity and the Labor Market Effects of Trade Liberalization," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: International Trade and Labor Markets Welfare, Inequality and Unemployment, chapter 10, pages 265-306 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    8. Elhanan Helpman & Oleg Itskhoki & Stephen Redding, 2010. "Inequality and Unemployment in a Global Economy," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(4), pages 1239-1283, July.
    9. Antonella Nocco, 2012. "Selection, Market Size and International Integration: Do Vertical Linkages Play a Role?," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(5), pages 960-973, November.
    10. Marc J. Melitz, 2003. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(6), pages 1695-1725, November.
    11. Montagna, Catia, 2001. "Efficiency Gaps, Love of Variety and International Trade," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 68(269), pages 27-44, February.
    12. Eckel, Carsten & Egger, Hartmut, 2009. "Wage bargaining and multinational firms," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 206-214, April.
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    More about this item


    Competitive selection; international trade; unionisation; pro-variety effect; aggregate demand effects;

    JEL classification:

    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation
    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
    • R13 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - General Equilibrium and Welfare Economic Analysis of Regional Economies
    • J51 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Trade Unions: Objectives, Structure, and Effects

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