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Why did wage inequality decrease in Mexico after NAFTA?

  • Raymundo M. Campos-Vázquez

    ()

    (El Colegio de México)

Contrary to what happened before NAFTA, wage inequality in Mexico decreased after 1994. This paper investigates the forces behind the post NAFTA decrease in wage inequality. Using a quantile decomposition, I show that the decline in wage inequality is driven by a decline in the returns to education and potential experience, especially at the top of the wage distribution. Supply and demand are the main contributors for this change. On the supply side, there were substantial increases in college enrollment rates after 1994, which translated into an increase in the proportion of workers with a college degree. However, this increase in supply was not met by an increase in demand for the highly educated: the proportion of the workforce in top qualified occupations and close to the top occupations did not increase as much as the increase in supply. As a result, college educated workers put wage pressures in top and less than top qualified occupations. A Bound and Johnson (1992) decomposition confirms that changes in relative supply are the main determinant behind the decrease in wage inequality.

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File URL: http://cee.colmex.mx/documentos/documentos-de-trabajo/2010/dt201015.pdf
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Paper provided by El Colegio de México, Centro de Estudios Económicos in its series Serie documentos de trabajo del Centro de Estudios Económicos with number 2010-15.

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Date of creation: Oct 2010
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Handle: RePEc:emx:ceedoc:2010-15
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.colmex.mx/centros/cee/

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  1. Dustmann, Christian & Ludsteck, Johannes & Schönberg, Uta, 2007. "Revisiting the German Wage Structure," IZA Discussion Papers 2685, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Bosch, Mariano & Manacorda, Marco, 2010. "Minimum Wages and Earnings Inequality in Urban Mexico," CEPR Discussion Papers 7882, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Jim Airola & Chinhui Juhn, 2008. "Wage Inequality in Post-Reform Mexico," Journal of Income Distribution, Journal of Income Distribution, vol. 17(1), pages 110-134, March.
  4. Leonardo Gasparini & Guillermo Cruces & Leopoldo Tornarolli, 2009. "Recent trends in income inequality in Latin America," Working Papers 132, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
  5. Gerardo Esquivel, 2011. "The Dynamics of Income Inequality in Mexico since NAFTA," JOURNAL OF LACEA ECONOMIA, LACEA - LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION.
  6. Maarten Goos & Alan Manning, 2003. "Lousy and Lovely Jobs: the Rising Polarization of Work in Britain," CEP Discussion Papers dp0604, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  7. Dinardo, J. & Fortin, N.M. & Lemieux, T., 1994. "Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: A Semiparametric Approach," Cahiers de recherche 9406, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
  8. David Fairris, 2003. "Unions and wage inequality in Mexico," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 56(3), pages 481-497, April.
  9. Chiquiar, Daniel, 2008. "Globalization, regional wage differentials and the Stolper-Samuelson Theorem: Evidence from Mexico," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(1), pages 70-93, January.
  10. Cragg, Michael Ian & Epelbaum, Mario, 1996. "Why has wage dispersion grown in Mexico? Is it the incidence of reforms or the growing demand for skills?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 99-116, October.
  11. Ferreira, Francisco H. G. & Leite, Phillippe G. & Litchfield, Julie A., 2008. "The Rise And Fall Of Brazilian Inequality: 1981–2004," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(S2), pages 199-230, September.
  12. Alexandra Spitz-Oener, 2006. "Technical Change, Job Tasks, and Rising Educational Demands: Looking outside the Wage Structure," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(2), pages 235-270, April.
  13. Luis F. Lopez-Calva & Nora Lustig, 2009. "The recent decline of inequality in Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Peru," Working Papers 140, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
  14. Robertson, Raymond, 2004. "Relative prices and wage inequality: evidence from Mexico," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 387-409, December.
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