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Trade Flows and Wage Premiums: Does Who or What Matter?

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  • Mary E. Lovely
  • J. David Richardson

Abstract

In this paper we investigate relationships between trade, wages, and the rewards to skill for U.S. workers during the period 1981 - 92. We measure U.S. trade flows with three groups of trading partners -- industrial countries, newly industrial countries, and primary producers -- and we estimate the correlation of these trade flows with several types of wage premiums, using conditioning methods that separate pure wage premiums from the return to education industry by industry. We find that greater U.S. trade with newly industrializing countries is associated with increased rewards to skill and reduced rewards to pure labor, consistent with heightened wage inequality and distributional conflict. The opposite is usually true of greater trade with traditional industrial countries. Our interpretation of these results rests on two models. One is a model of North-North intraindustry trade in differentiated, skill-intensive intermediate goods ( horizontal' exchange) and North-South intraindustry trade in intermediates for finished manufactures ( vertical' exchange). The second is a simple model of industry wage premiums that are rewards for loyalty, firm-specific knowledge, or (dis)amenities, in which we posit different premiums for skilled and less-skilled workers whose labor markets are segmented from one another.

Suggested Citation

  • Mary E. Lovely & J. David Richardson, 1998. "Trade Flows and Wage Premiums: Does Who or What Matter?," NBER Working Papers 6668, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6668
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    Cited by:

    1. Avraham Ebenstein & Ann Harrison & Margaret McMillan & Shannon Phillips, 2014. "Estimating the Impact of Trade and Offshoring on American Workers using the Current Population Surveys," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(4), pages 581-595, October.
    2. Galiano, Sebastian & Porto, Guido G., 2006. "Trends in tariff reforms and trends in wage inequality," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3905, The World Bank.
    3. Kjell Erik Lommerud & Frode Meland & Lars S¯rgard, 2003. "Unionised Oligopoly, Trade Liberalisation and Location Choice," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(490), pages 782-800, October.
    4. Galiani, Sebastian & Sanguinetti, Pablo, 2003. "The impact of trade liberalization on wage inequality: evidence from Argentina," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 497-513, December.
    5. Philip Du Caju & François Rycx & Ilan Tojerow, 2012. "Wage structure effects of international trade in a small open economy: the case of Belgium," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 148(2), pages 297-331, June.
    6. Kamal, Fariha & Lovely, Mary E., 2017. "Import competition from and offshoring to low-income countries: Implications for employment and wages at U.S. domestic manufacturers," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 100-119.
    7. Scott, Ewan & Emerson, Robert D., 2001. "Wage Differentials And Trade Relationships In Jamaica: Applications Of Truncated Regression Models And Repeated Cross-Section Data," 2001 Annual meeting, August 5-8, Chicago, IL 20475, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    8. De Santis, Roberto A., 1999. "Intra-industry trade, endogenous technological change, wage inequality and welfare," Kiel Working Papers 921, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    9. Philip Du Caju & François Rycx & Ilan Tojerow, 2011. "Wage Structure Effects of International Trade: Evidence from a Small Open Economy," Working Papers CEB 11-011, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    10. Carlos Casacuberta & Marcel Vaillant, 2002. "Trade and wages in Uruguay in the 1990’s," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 0902, Department of Economics - dECON.
    11. Pizer, Steven D., 2000. "Does international competition undermine wage differentials and increase inequality?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 259-282, December.
    12. Lücke, Matthias, 1999. "Sectoral value added prices, TFP growth, and the low-skilled wage in high-income countries," Kiel Working Papers 923, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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