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Did Trade Liberalization Help Women? The Case of Mexico in the 1990s

  • Ernesto Aguayo-Tellez
  • Jim Airola
  • Chinhui Juhn

With the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994, Mexico entered a bilateral free trade agreement which not only lowered its own tariffs on imports but also lowered tariffs on its exports to the U.S. We find that women's relative wage increased, particularly during the period of liberalization. Both between and within-industry shifts also favored female workers. With regards to between-industry shifts, tariff reductions expanded sectors which were initially female intensive. With regards to within-industry shifts, we find a positive association between reductions in export tariffs (U.S. tariffs on Mexican goods) and hiring of women in skilled blue-collar occupations. Finally, we find suggestive evidence that household bargaining power shifted in favor of women. Expenditures shifted from goods associated with male preference, such as men's clothing and tobacco and alcohol, to those associated with female preference such as women's clothing and education.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16195.

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Date of creation: Jul 2010
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Publication status: published as “Did Trade Liberalization Help Women? The Case of Mexico in the 1990s,” (with Jim Airola, Ernesto Aguayo, and Carolina Villegas-Sanchez), Research in Labor Economics, forthcoming.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16195
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  1. Jim Airola & Chinhui Juhn, 2008. "Wage Inequality in Post-Reform Mexico," Journal of Income Distribution, Journal of Income Distribution, vol. 17(1), pages 110-134, March.
  2. Sandra E. Black & Elizabeth Brainerd, 2002. "Importing Equality? The Impact of Globalization on Gender Discrimination," NBER Working Papers 9110, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Remco H. Oostendorp, 2009. "Globalization and the Gender Wage Gap," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 23(1), pages 141-161, January.
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  5. Galor, Oded & Weil, David N, 1996. "The Gender Gap, Fertility, and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 374-87, June.
  6. Ann Harrison, 2007. "Globalization and Poverty," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number harr06-1, October.
  7. Matthias Arnold, Jens & Javorcik, Beata S., 2009. "Gifted kids or pushy parents? Foreign direct investment and plant productivity in Indonesia," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 42-53, September.
  8. Bruce A. Weinberg, 2000. "Computer use and the demand for female workers," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 53(2), pages 290-308, January.
  9. Pavcnik, Nina, 2003. "What explains skill upgrading in less developed countries?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 311-328, August.
  10. Qian, Nancy, 2006. "Missing Women and the Price of Tea in China: The Effect of Sex-Specific Earnings on Sex Imbalance," CEPR Discussion Papers 5986, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Cragg, Michael Ian & Epelbaum, Mario, 1996. "Why has wage dispersion grown in Mexico? Is it the incidence of reforms or the growing demand for skills?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 99-116, October.
  12. Petia Topalova, 2007. "Trade Liberalization, Poverty and Inequality: Evidence from Indian Districts," NBER Chapters, in: Globalization and Poverty, pages 291-336 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Esther Duflo, 2003. "Grandmothers and Granddaughters: Old-Age Pensions and Intrahousehold Allocation in South Africa," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 17(1), pages 1-25, June.
  14. Gordon H. Hanson & Ann Harrison, 1999. "Trade liberalization and wage inequality in Mexico," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 52(2), pages 271-288, January.
  15. Gustavo J. Bobonis, 2009. "Is the Allocation of Resources within the Household Efficient? New Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(3), pages 453-503, 06.
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