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

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  • Stephen Tokarick

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen Tokarick, 2002. "Quantifying the Impact of Tradeon Wages; The Role of Nontraded Goods," IMF Working Papers 02/191, International Monetary Fund.
  • Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:02/191
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Krugman, Paul R., 2000. "Technology, trade and factor prices," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 51-71, February.
    2. 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, September.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. R. E. Baldwin & G. G. Cain, "undated". "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.
    6. Dornbusch, Rudiger, 1974. "Tariffs and nontraded goods," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 177-185, May.
    7. 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.
    8. Hakura, D. & Deardorff, A.V., 1993. "Trade and Wages: What Are the Questions?," Working Papers 341, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
    9. 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 478-494, June.
    10. Daron Acemoglu, 2003. "Patterns of Skill Premia," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(2), pages 199-230.
    11. Abrego, Lisandro & Whalley, John, 2000. "The Choice of Structural Model in Trade-Wages Decompositions," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 8(3), pages 462-477, August.
    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. Dalia S Hakura, 1997. "The Impact of Trade Prices on Employment and Wages in the United States," IMF Working Papers 97/116, International Monetary Fund.
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    Cited by:

    1. Rod Tyers & Iain Bain & Jahnvi Vedi, 2006. "The global implications of freer skilled migration," PGDA Working Papers 1006, Program on the Global Demography of Aging.
    2. Rod Tyers & Iain Bain & Jahnvi Vedi, 2007. "The Global Economic Implications of Freer Skilled Migration," DEGIT Conference Papers c012_028, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.

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