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Trade, technology adoption and wage inequalities: theory and evidence

  • Maria Bas
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    This paper develops a model of trade that features heterogeneous firms, technology choice and different types of skilled labor in a general equilibrium framework. Its main contribution is to explain the impact of trade integration on technology adoption and wage inequalities. It also provides empirical evidence to support the model’s predictions using plant-level panel data from Chile’s manufacturing sector (1990-1999). The theoretical framework offers a possible explanation of the puzzling increase in skill premium in the developing countries. The key mechanism is found in the effects of trade policy on the number of new firms upgrading technology and on the skill-intensity of labor. Trade liberalization pushes up export revenues, raising the probability that the most productive exporters will upgrade their technology. These firms then increase their relative demand for skilled labor, thereby raising inequalities.

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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/28513/
    File Function: Open access version.
    Download Restriction: no

    Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 28513.

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    Length: 46 pages
    Date of creation: Dec 2008
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:28513
    Contact details of provider: Postal: LSE Library Portugal Street London, WC2A 2HD, U.K.
    Phone: +44 (020) 7405 7686
    Web page: http://www.lse.ac.uk/

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    1. Daron Acemoglu, 2003. "Patterns of Skill Premia," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(2), pages 199-230, 04.
    2. 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.
    3. Yeaple, Stephen Ross, 2005. "A simple model of firm heterogeneity, international trade, and wages," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 1-20, January.
    4. Roberts, Mark J & Tybout, James R, 1997. "The Decision to Export in Colombia: An Empirical Model of Entry with Sunk Costs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(4), pages 545-64, September.
    5. Andrew B. Bernard & Jonathan Eaton & J. Bradford Jensen & Samuel Kortum, 2000. "Plants and Productivity in International Trade," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 105, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
    6. Ekholm, Karolina & Ulltveit-Moe, Karen-Helene, 2001. "Relative Wages and Trade-Induced Changes in Technology," CEPR Discussion Papers 2677, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Elhanan Helpman & Oleg Itskhoki & Stephen Redding, 2008. "Inequality and Unemployment in a Global Economy," NBER Working Papers 14478, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Andrew B. Bernard & Stephen Redding & Peter K. Schott, 2004. "Comparative Advantage and Heterogeneous Firms," CEP Discussion Papers dp0643, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    9. Attanasio, Orazio & Goldberg, Pinelopi K. & Pavcnik, Nina, 2004. "Trade reforms and wage inequality in Colombia," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(2), pages 331-366, August.
    10. Robert C. Feenstra & Gordon H. Hanson, 1999. "The Impact Of Outsourcing And High-Technology Capital On Wages: Estimates For The United States, 1979-1990," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 907-940, August.
    11. Bernard, Andrew B. & Bradford Jensen, J., 1999. "Exceptional exporter performance: cause, effect, or both?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 1-25, February.
    12. Edward Anderson & Paul J. G. Tang & Adrian Wood, 2006. "Globalization, co-operation costs, and wage inequalities," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(4), pages 569-595, October.
    13. Maurin, Eric & Thesmar, David & Thoenig, Mathias, 2002. "Globalization and the demand for skill: An Export Based Channel," CEPR Discussion Papers 3406, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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