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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.

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Paper provided by IIIS in its series The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series with number iiisdp81.

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Date of creation: 15 Dec 2005
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Handle: RePEc:iis:dispap:iiisdp81
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  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.
  2. 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 173-92, February.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Shorrocks, Anthony F, 1983. "Ranking Income Distributions," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 50(197), pages 3-17, February.
  6. John C. Harsanyi, 1953. "Cardinal Utility in Welfare Economics and in the Theory of Risk-taking," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61, pages 434.
  7. Helpman, Elhanan, 1995. "Politics and Trade Policy," CEPR Discussion Papers 1269, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. John C. Harsanyi, 1955. "Cardinal Welfare, Individualistic Ethics, and Interpersonal Comparisons of Utility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63, pages 309.
  9. Barro, Robert J, 2000. " Inequality and Growth in a Panel of Countries," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 5-32, March.
  10. Edwards, Sebastian, 1997. "Trade Policy, Growth, and Income Distribution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 205-10, May.
  11. Bourguignon, F. & Morrisson, C., 1989. "Income Distribution, Development and Foreign Trade: A Cross-Sectional Analysis," DELTA Working Papers 89-05, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  12. 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.
  13. Matthew Higgins & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 1999. "Explaining inequality the world round: cohort size, Kuznets curves, and openness," Staff Reports 79, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  14. Sen, Amartya, 1997. "On Economic Inequality," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198292975, March.
  15. Sen, Amartya K, 1976. "Real National Income," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(1), pages 19-39, February.
  16. Sen, Amartya, 1974. "Informational bases of alternative welfare approaches : Aggregation and income distribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 387-403, November.
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