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Regional Adjustment to Trade Liberalization

  • Gordon H. Hanson

In this paper, I study the effect of economic integration with the United States on state-industry employment growth in Mexico. I disentangle the effects of two opposing forces on regional labor demand: transport-cost considerations, which, all else equal, encourage firms to relocate their activities to regions with relatively good access to foreign markets, and agglomeration economies, which, all else equal, reinforce the pre-trade pattern of industry location. I find that trade liberalization has strong effects on industry location. Consistent with the transport-costs hypothesis, post-trade employment growth is higher in state-industries that are relatively close to the United States. The results on agglomeration effects are mixed. Employment growth is higher where agglomeration in upstream and downstream industries is higher, but not where the agglomeration of firms in the same industry is higher. The results suggest trade liberalization has contributed to the decomposition of the manufacturing belt in and around Mexico City and the formation of broadly specialized industry centers located in northern Mexico, relatively close to the United States. The North American Free Trade Agreement is likely to reinforce these movements.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4713.

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Date of creation: Apr 1994
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Publication status: published as Regional Science and Urban Economics, Vol. 28 (1998): 419-444.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4713
Note: ITI
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