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Trade Liberalization and Wage Inequality; Evidence From India

  • Prachi Mishra
  • Utsav Kumar

We evaluate empirically the impact of the dramatic 1991 trade liberalization in India on the industry wage structure. The empirical strategy uses variation in industry wage premiums and trade policy across industries and over time. In contrast to earlier studies on developing countries, we find a strong, negative, and robust relationship between changes in trade policy and changes in industry wage premiums over time. The results are consistent with liberalization-induced productivity increases at the firm level, which get passed on to industry wages. Since tariff reductions were proportionately larger in sectors that employ a larger share of unskilled workers, the increase in wage premiums in these sectors implies that unskilled workers experienced an increase in their relative incomes. Thus, our findings suggest that trade liberalization has led to decreased wage inequality in India.

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Paper provided by International Monetary Fund in its series IMF Working Papers with number 05/20.

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Length: 42
Date of creation: 01 Jan 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:05/20
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  1. Attanasio, Orazio & Goldberg, Pinelopi & Pavcnik, Nina, 2003. "Trade Reforms and Wage Inequality in Colombia," CEPR Discussion Papers 4023, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Fallon, Peter R. & Lucas, Robert E. B., 1993. "Job security regulations and the dynamic demand for industrial labor in India and Zimbabwe," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 241-275, April.
  3. Petia Topalova & Amit Khandelwal, 2011. "Trade Liberalization and Firm Productivity: The Case of India," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(3), pages 995-1009, August.
  4. Krueger, Alan B & Summers, Lawrence H, 1988. "Efficiency Wages and the Inter-industry Wage Structure," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(2), pages 259-93, March.
  5. Krishna, Pravin & Mitra, Devashish, 1998. "Trade liberalization, market discipline and productivity growth: new evidence from India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 447-462, August.
  6. William T. Dickens & Lawrence F. Katz, 1987. "Inter-Industry Wage Differences and Theories of Wage Determination," NBER Working Papers 2271, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Noel Gaston & Daniel Trefler, 1994. "Protection, Trade, and Wages: Evidence from U.S. Manufacturing," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 47(4), pages 574-593, July.
  8. Nina Pavcnik, 2000. "Trade Liberalization, Exit, and Productivity Improvements: Evidence from Chilean Plants," NBER Working Papers 7852, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Ann Harrison & Gordon Hanson, 1999. "Who Gains from Trade Reform? Some Remaining Puzzles," NBER Working Papers 6915, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Zadia M. Feliciano, 2001. "Workers and trade liberalization: The impact of trade reforms in Mexico on wages and employment," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 55(1), pages 95-115, October.
  11. McDonald, Ian M & Solow, Robert M, 1981. "Wage Bargaining and Employment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(5), pages 896-908, December.
  12. Gene M. Grossman, 1984. "International Competition and the Unionized Sector," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 17(3), pages 541-56, August.
  13. Revenga, Ana, 1997. "Employment and Wage Effects of Trade Liberalization: The Case of Mexican Manufacturing," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(3), pages S20-43, July.
  14. F. Zilibotti & P. Aghion & R. Burgess, 2004. "The Unequal Effects of Trade Liberalization: Theory and Evidence from India," 2004 Meeting Papers 40, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  15. Nina Pavcnik & Andreas Blom & Pinelopi Goldberg & Norbert Schady, 2004. "Trade Liberalization and Industry Wage Structure: Evidence from Brazil," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 18(3), pages 319-344.
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