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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.

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Paper provided by Economic Studies, University of Dundee in its series Dundee Discussion Papers in Economics with number 269.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:dun:dpaper:269
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  1. Elhanan Helpman & Oleg Itskhoki, 2007. "Labor Market Rigidities, Trade and Unemployment," NBER Working Papers 13365, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Massimo Del Gatto & Giordano Mion & Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano, 2006. "Trade Integration, Firm Selection and the Costs of Non-Europe," Development Working Papers 218, Centro Studi Luca d\'Agliano, University of Milano.
  3. Andrew B Bernard & Jonathan Eaton & J. Bradford Jensen & Samuel Kortum, 2000. "Plants and productivity in international trade," Working Papers 00-08, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  4. Elhanan Helpman & Oleg Itshoki & Stephen Redding, 2009. "Inequality and unemployment in a global economy," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 25501, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  5. Montagna, Catia & Nocco, Antonella, 2011. "Unionisation, International Integration and Selection," SIRE Discussion Papers 2011-49, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
  6. 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.
  7. Eckel, Carsten & Egger, Hartmut, 2009. "Wage bargaining and multinational firms," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 206-214, April.
  8. Hartmut Egger & Udo Kreickemeier, 2007. "Firm Heterogeneity and the Labour Market Effects of Trade Liberalisation," CESifo Working Paper Series 2000, CESifo Group Munich.
  9. 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.
  10. Helpman, Elhanan, 2006. "Trade, FDI and the Organization of Firms," CEPR Discussion Papers 5589, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Melitz, Marc J, 2002. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," CEPR Discussion Papers 3381, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. 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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