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Inequality and Trade

  • Devashish Mitra
  • Vitor Trindade

We incorporate demand-side considerations in trade in a systematic but straightforward way. We do so by focusing on the role of inequality in the determination of trade flows and patterns. With nonhomothetic preferences, when countries are similar in all respects but asset inequality, we find that trade is driven by specialization in consumption, not production. These assumptions allow us to generate some interesting international spillover effects of redistributive policies. We also look at the effects of combining inequality and endowment differences on trade flows, and see that this has implications for the mystery of the missing trade.' We then study a model of monopolistic competition, and find a novel V-shaped relationship between the ratio of inter-industry to intra-industry trade and a country's inequality. Finally, we look at how international differences in factor endowments affect this relationship between the ratio of inter- to- intra-industry trade and inequality. Our theory formalizes as well as modifies Linder's conjecture about the relationship between intraindustry trade and the extent of similarity between trading partners.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w10087.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10087.

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Date of creation: Nov 2003
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Publication status: published as Mitra, Devashish and Vitor Trindade. "Inequality And Trade," Canadian Journal of Economics, 2005, v38(4,Nov), 1253-1271.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10087
Note: ITI
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  1. 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.
  2. Kiminori Matsuyama, 1999. "A Ricardian Model with a Continuum of Goods under Non-homothetic Preferences: Demand Complementarities, Income Distribution, and North-South Trade," Discussion Papers 1241, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  3. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2003. "Gravity with Gravitas: A Solution to the Border Puzzle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 170-192, March.
  4. 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.
  5. Thursby, Jerry G & Thursby, Marie C, 1987. "Bilateral Trade Flows, the Linder Hypothesis, and Exchange Risk," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 69(3), pages 488-95, August.
  6. Muhammed Dalgin & Vitor Trindade & Devashish Mitra, 2008. "Inequality, Nonhomothetic Preferences, and Trade: A Gravity Approach," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 747-774, January.
  7. Mani, Anandi, 2001. " Income Distribution and the Demand Constraint," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 6(2), pages 107-33, June.
  8. Krugman, Paul R., 1979. "Increasing returns, monopolistic competition, and international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 469-479, November.
  9. Francois, Joseph F & Kaplan, Seth, 1996. "Aggregate Demand Shifts, Income Distribution, and the Linder Hypothesis," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(2), pages 244-50, May.
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