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Household Inequality, Welfare, and the Setting of Trade Policy


  • Joseph Francois
  • Hugo Rojas-Romagosa


We analyze general equilibrium relationships between trade policy and the household distribution of income, decomposing social welfare into real income level and variance components through Gini and Atkinson indexes. We embed these inequality-adjusted social welfare functions in a general equilibrium structure mapping from tariff protection to household inequality. This yields predictions regarding the linkages between trade protection, country characteristics and inequality in Heckscher-Ohlin and Ricardo-Viner frameworks. In addition, we can separate the efficiency and equity effects of tariffs on welfare. We then examine endogenous tariff formation when policy makers care about both equity and special interests.

Suggested Citation

  • Joseph Francois & Hugo Rojas-Romagosa, 2005. "Household Inequality, Welfare, and the Setting of Trade Policy," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp81, IIIS.
  • Handle: RePEc:iis:dispap:iiisdp81

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Anderson, James E & Neary, J Peter, 1992. "Trade Reform with Quotas, Partial Rent Retention, and Tariffs," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(1), pages 57-76, January.
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    5. Bourguignon, F. & Morrisson, C., 1990. "Income distribution, development and foreign trade : A cross-sectional analysis," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(6), pages 1113-1132, September.
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    7. Spilimbergo, Antonio & Londono, Juan Luis & Szekely, Miguel, 1999. "Income distribution, factor endowments, and trade openness," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 77-101, June.
    8. Sen, Amartya, 1997. "On Economic Inequality," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198292975, June.
    9. Edwards, Sebastian, 1997. "Trade Policy, Growth, and Income Distribution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 205-210, May.
    10. Galor, Oded, 1994. "Tariffs, Income Distribution and Welfare in a Small Overlapping-Generations Economy," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 35(1), pages 173-192, February.
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    12. Shorrocks, Anthony F, 1983. "Ranking Income Distributions," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 50(197), pages 3-17, February.
    13. J. David Richardson, 1995. "Income Inequality and Trade: How to Think, What to Conclude," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 33-55, Summer.
    14. Barro, Robert J, 2000. "Inequality and Growth in a Panel of Countries," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 5-32, March.
    15. Robert Feenstra & Gordon Hanson, 2001. "Global Production Sharing and Rising Inequality: A Survey of Trade and Wages," NBER Working Papers 8372, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. William R. Cline, 1997. "Trade and Income Distribution," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 58.
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    Cited by:

    1. Joseph Francois & Hugo Rojas-Romagosa, 2007. "Equity and Trade Policy," IIDE Discussion Papers 20070501, Institue for International and Development Economics.
    2. Joseph Francis Francois & Hugo ROJAS-ROMAGOSA, 2008. "Equity and International Trade," Economics working papers 2008-14, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.

    More about this item


    trade policy; household distribution of income; Atkinson index; Gini index; political econom;

    JEL classification:

    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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