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Quantifying the Impact of Tradeon Wages; The Role of Nontraded Goods

  • Stephen Tokarick
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    This paper uses an applied general equilbrium model to decompose the effects of changes in trade and technology-related variables on wages of skilled and unskilled labor between 1982 and 1996 in the United States. The results indicate that trade-related variables (tariff cuts, improvement in the terms of trade, and the increase in the trade deficit) had little impact on the widening wage gap. Also, changes in total factor productivity had a small effect on relative wages. The major factor behind the rise in the skilled wage relative to the unskilled wage was differential rates of growth in skill-biased technical change across sectors. The paper also highlights the role that nontraded goods play in explaining the wage gap. Finally, the paper presents estimates of the effect of trade on wages by calculating what wage rates would be under autarky. The results show that expanding trade could actually reduce wage inequality, rather than increase it. The welfare costs to the U.S economy of moving to autarky (using 1996 as a base) are about 6 percent of GDP.

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    Paper provided by International Monetary Fund in its series IMF Working Papers with number 02/191.

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    Length: 31
    Date of creation: 01 Nov 2002
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:02/191
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    1. Lisandro Abrego & John Whalley, 1999. "The Choice of Structural Model in Trade-Wages Decompositions," CSGR Working papers series 34/99, Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation (CSGR), University of Warwick.
    2. R. E. Baldwin & G. G. Cain, . "Shifts in U.S. Relative Wages: The Role of Trade, Technology, and Factor Endowments," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1132-97, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
    3. Dornbusch, Rudiger, 1974. "Tariffs and nontraded goods," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 177-185, May.
    4. Davis, Donald R, 1998. "Does European Unemployment Prop Up American Wages? National Labor Markets and Global Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 478-94, June.
    5. Matthew J. Slaughter, 1998. "What Are the Results of Product-Price Studies and What Can We Learn From Their Differences?," NBER Working Papers 6591, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Dalia Hakura, 1997. "The Impact of Trade Priceson Employment and Wages in the United States," IMF Working Papers 97/116, International Monetary Fund.
    7. Daron Acemoglu, 2003. "Patterns of Skill Premia," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(2), pages 199-230, 04.
    8. Paul Krugman, 1995. "Technology, Trade, and Factor Prices," NBER Working Papers 5355, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Hakura, D. & Deardorff, A.V., 1993. "Trade and Wages: What Are the Questions?," Working Papers 341, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
    10. Jonathan E. Haskel & Matthew J. Slaughter, 2000. "Have Falling Tariffs and Transportation Costs Raised U.S. Wage Inequality?," NBER Working Papers 7539, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Dawkins, Christina & Srinivasan, T.N. & Whalley, John, 2001. "Calibration," Handbook of Econometrics, in: J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 58, pages 3653-3703 Elsevier.
    12. Edward E. Leamer, 1996. "In Search of Stolper-Samuelson Effects on U.S. Wages," NBER Working Papers 5427, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Kevin J. Stiroh & Dale W. Jorgenson, 2000. "U.S. Economic Growth at the Industry Level," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 161-167, May.
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