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Trade Liberalization and Welfare Inequality: a Demand-Based Approach

  • Tarasov, Alexander

There is strong evidence that different income groups consume di¤erent bundles of goods. This evidence suggests that trade liberalization can a¤ect welfare inequality within a country via changes in the relative prices of goods consumed by di¤erent income groups (the price effect). In this paper, I develop a framework that enables us to explore the role of the price effect in determining welfare inequality. There are two core elements in the model. First, I assume that heterogenous in income consumers share identical but nonhomothetic preferences. Secondly, I consider a monopolistic competition environment that leads to variable markups a¤ected by trade and trade costs. I �nd that trade liberalization does affect the prices of different goods differently and, as a result, can bene�fit some income classes more than others. In particular, I show that the relative welfare of the rich with respect to that of the poor has a hump shape as a function of trade costs.

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Paper provided by University of Munich, Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers in Economics with number 11492.

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Date of creation: Apr 2010
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Handle: RePEc:lmu:muenec:11492
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  1. Flam, Harry & Helpman, Elhanan, 1987. "Vertical Product Differentiation and North-South Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 810-22, December.
  2. Markusen, James R, 1986. "Explaining the Volume of Trade: An Eclectic Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(5), pages 1002-11, December.
  3. Devashish Mitra & Vitor Trindade, 2003. "Inequality and Trade," NBER Working Papers 10087, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Krugman, Paul, 1980. "Scale Economies, Product Differentiation, and the Pattern of Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(5), pages 950-59, December.
  5. Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg & Nina Pavcnik, 2007. "Distributional Effects of Globalization in Developing Countries," NBER Working Papers 12885, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2002. "Technology, Geography, and Trade," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(5), pages 1741-1779, September.
  7. Stokey, Nancy L, 1991. "The Volume and Composition of Trade between Rich and Poor Countries," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(1), pages 63-80, January.
  8. Marc J. Melitz & Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano, 2005. "Market Size, Trade, and Productivity," NBER Working Papers 11393, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. P Ramezzana, 2000. "Per Capita Income Demand for Variety, and International Trade: Linder Reconsidered," CEP Discussion Papers dp0460, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  10. Tarasov, Alexander, 2007. "Income Distribution, Market Structure, and Individual Welfare," MPRA Paper 7682, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Jan 2008.
  11. Murphy, Kevin M & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1989. "Income Distribution, Market Size, and Industrialization," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 104(3), pages 537-64, August.
  12. Kiminori Matsuyama, 2000. "A Ricardian Model with a Continuum of Goods under Nonhomothetic Preferences: Demand Complementarities, Income Distribution, and North-South Trade," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(6), pages 1093-1120, December.
  13. Stibora, Joachim & de Vaal, Albert, 2007. "Trade policy in a Ricardian model with a continuum of goods under nonhomothetic preferences," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 350-377, September.
  14. Fajgelbaum, Pablo & Grossman, Gene M. & Helpman, Elhanan, 2011. "Income distribution, product quality, and international trade," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5843, The World Bank.
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