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Trade liberalization and the evolution of skill earnings differentials in Brazil

  • Terra, Maria Cristina T.
  • Gonzaga, Gustavo Maurício
  • Menezes Filho, Naércio Aquino

From 1988 to 1995, when trade liberalization was implemented in Brazil, relative earnings of skilled workers decreased. In this paper, we investigate the role of trade liberalization in explaining these relative earnings movements, by checking all the steps predicted by the Heckscher-Ohlin-style trade transmission mechanism. We find that: i) employment shifted from skilled to unskilled intensive sectors, and each sector increased its relative share of skilled labor; ii) relative prices felI in skill intensive sectors; iii) tariíf changes across sectors were not related to skill intensities, but the pass-through from tariffs to prices was stronger in skill intensive sectors; iv) the decline in skilled earnings differentials mandated by the price variation predicted by trade is very dose to the observed one. The results are compatible with trade liberalization, accounting for the observed relative earnings changes in Brazil.

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Paper provided by FGV/EPGE Escola Brasileira de Economia e Finanças, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil) in its series Economics Working Papers (Ensaios Economicos da EPGE) with number 457.

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Date of creation: 23 Oct 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fgv:epgewp:457
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  1. Johnson, George & Stafford, Frank, 1999. "The labor market implications of international trade," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 34, pages 2215-2288 Elsevier.
  2. Gustavo Gonzaga & Naércio Menezes Filho & Maria Cristina Terra, 2005. "Trade liberalization and the evolution of skill earnings differentials in Brazil," Textos para discussão 503, Department of Economics PUC-Rio (Brazil).
  3. Rudiger Dornbusch & Stanley Fischer & Paul A. Samuelson, 1980. "Heckscher-Ohlin Trade Theory with a Continuum of Goods," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 95(2), pages 203-224.
  4. Jonathan E. Haskel & Matthew J. Slaughter, 2003. "Have Falling Tariffs and Transportation Costs Raised US Wage Inequality?," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(4), pages 630-650, 09.
  5. Gordon H. Hanson & Ann Harrison, 1999. "Trade Liberalization and Wage Inequality in Mexico," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 52(2), pages 271-288, January.
  6. Alan B. Krueger, 1997. "Labor Market Shifts and the Price Puzzle Revisited," NBER Working Papers 5924, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(1), pages 7-72, March.
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  11. E Berman & J Bound & Stephen Machin, 1997. "Implications of Skill-Biased Technological Change: International Evidence," CEP Discussion Papers dp0367, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  12. Eli Berman & John Bound & Zvi Griliches, 1994. "Changes in the Demand for Skilled Labor within U. S. Manufacturing: Evidence from the Annual Survey of Manufactures," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 367-397.
  13. Miguel Székely & Nancy Birdsall & Jere R. Behrman, 2000. "Economics Reform and Wage Differentials in Latin America," Research Department Publications 4235, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  14. Beyer, Harald & Rojas, Patricio & Vergara, Rodrigo, 1999. "Trade liberalization and wage inequality," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 103-123, June.
  15. Baldwin, Robert E & Cain, Glen C, 1997. "Shifts in US Relative Wages: The Role of Trade, Technology and Factor Endowments," CEPR Discussion Papers 1596, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. Eli Berman & John Bound & Zvi Griliches, 1993. "Changes in the Demand for Skilled Labor within U.S. Manufacturing Industries: Evidence from the Annual Survey of Manufacturing," NBER Working Papers 4255, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Matthew J. Slaughter, 2000. "What Are the Results of Product-Price Studies and What Can We Learn from Their Differences?," NBER Chapters, in: The Impact of International Trade on Wages, pages 129-169 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. John Romalis, 2004. "Factor Proportions and the Structure of Commodity Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 67-97, March.
  19. Daron Acemoglu, 2003. "Patterns of Skill Premia," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(2), pages 199-230.
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  21. Jere R. Behrman & Nancy Birdsall & Miguel Székely, 2003. "Economic Policy and Wage Differentials in Latin America," Working Papers 29, Center for Global Development.
  22. 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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