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Trade Protection and Wages: Evidence from the Colombian Trade Reforms

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  • Pinelopi K. Goldberg
  • Nina Pavcnik

Abstract

Starting in 1985, Colombia experienced gradual trade liberalization that culminated in the drastic tariff reductions of 1990-91. This paper exploits these trade reforms to investigate the relationship between protection and wages. The focus of the analysis is on relative wages, defined as industry wage premiums relative to the economy-wide average wage. Using the June waves of the Colombian National Household Survey, we first compute wage premiums for the period 1984-98, adjusting for a series of worker characteristics, job and firm attributes, and informality. We find that industry wage premiums in Colombia exhibit remarkably less persistence over time than U.S. wage premiums. Similarly, measures of trade protection are less correlated over time than in the U.S. data, indicating that as a result of trade liberalization the structure of protection has changed. Regressions of wage premiums on tariffs, without industry fixed effects, produce a negative relationship between protection and wages; workers in protected sectors earn less than workers with similar observable characteristics in unprotected sectors. With fixed effects the results are reversed: Trade protection is found to increase relative wages. The effect is economically significant: Elimination of tariffs in an industry with an average level of protection in 1984 would lead to a 4% wage decline in this industry. For the most protected industries the effect increases to 7.3%. We also find that - in contrast to the U.S. - sectors with high import penetration in Colombia pay higher wages; nevertheless, regressions with industry fixed effects indicate that an increase of imports in a particular sector is associated with lower wages. The differences between the results with and without fixed effects are indicative of the importance of (time-invariant) political economy factors as determinants of protection. Further issues concerning the effects of trade liberalization, such as the relevance of time-variant political economy factors, the importance of employment guarantees, liberalization induced productivity changes, and the interplay of trade and labor reforms, will be investigated in a sequel paper.

Suggested Citation

  • Pinelopi K. Goldberg & Nina Pavcnik, 2001. "Trade Protection and Wages: Evidence from the Colombian Trade Reforms," NBER Working Papers 8575, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8575
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    Cited by:

    1. Meschi, Elena & Vivarelli, Marco, 2007. "Globalization and Income Inequality," IZA Discussion Papers 2958, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg & Nina Pavcnik, 2007. "The Effects of the Colombian Trade Liberalization on Urban Poverty," NBER Chapters,in: Globalization and Poverty, pages 241-290 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Eric V. Edmonds & Nina Pavcnik & Petia Topalova, 2010. "Trade Adjustment and Human Capital Investments: Evidence from Indian Tariff Reform," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 42-75, October.
    4. Ferreira, Francisco H.G. & Leite, Phillippe G. & Wai-Poi, Matthew, 2007. "Trade Liberalization, Employment Flows and Wage Inequality in Brazil," WIDER Working Paper Series 058, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    5. 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.
    6. Pinelopi K. Goldberg & Nina Pavcnik, 2004. "Trade, Inequality, and Poverty: What Do We Know? Evidence from Recent Trade Liberalization Episodes in Developing Countries," NBER Working Papers 10593, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Fontagne, Lionel & Mirza, Daniel, 2007. "International trade and rent sharing among developed and developing countries," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 523-558, May.
    8. Schor, Adriana, 2004. "Heterogeneous productivity response to tariff reduction. Evidence from Brazilian manufacturing firms," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 373-396, December.
    9. Petia Topalova & Amit Khandelwal, 2011. "Trade Liberalization and Firm Productivity: The Case of India," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(3), pages 995-1009, August.
    10. Goldberg, Pinelopi Koujianou & Pavcnik, Nina, 2005. "Trade, wages, and the political economy of trade protection: evidence from the Colombian trade reforms," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 75-105, May.
    11. Meschi, Elena & Vivarelli, Marco, 2009. "Trade and Income Inequality in Developing Countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 287-302, February.
    12. Bardhan, Pranab, 2006. "Globalization and rural poverty," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 34(8), pages 1393-1404, August.
    13. Evguenia Bessonova & Konstantin Kozlov & Ksenia Yudaeva, 2003. "Trade Liberalization, Foreign Direct Investment, and Productivity of Russian Firms," Working Papers w0039, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).
    14. Nannan Lundin & Lihong Yun, 2009. "International Trade and Inter-Industry Wage Structure in Swedish Manufacturing: Evidence from Matched Employer-Employee Data," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17(1), pages 87-102, February.
    15. Fernandes, Ana M., 2007. "Trade policy, trade volumes and plant-level productivity in Colombian manufacturing industries," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 52-71, March.
    16. Carlos Casacuberta & Marcel Vaillant, 2002. "Trade and wages in Uruguay in the 1990’s," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 0902, Department of Economics - dECON.
    17. Rana Hasan & Lan Chen, 2003. "Trade and Workers: Evidence from the Philippines," Economics Study Area Working Papers 61, East-West Center, Economics Study Area.
    18. Akhmed Akhmedov & Evgenia Bessonova & Ivan Cherkashin & Irina Denisova & Elena Grishina & Denis Nekipelov, 2003. "WTO Accession and the Labor Market: Estimations for Russia," Working Papers w0040, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).
    19. Akhmed Akhmedov & Evgenia Bessonova & Ivan Cherkashin & Irina Denisova & Elena Grishina, 2005. "Adjustment Costs of Trade Liberalization: Estimations for the Russian Labor Market," Working Papers w0086, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).
    20. Pham, Hung T, 2006. "Rural Nonfarm Employment Under Trade Reform Evidence From Vietnam, 1993-2002," MPRA Paper 6476, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    21. Gordon H. Hanson, 2003. "What Has Happened to Wages in Mexico since NAFTA?," NBER Working Papers 9563, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    22. Noria, Gabriela López, 2015. "The effect of trade and FDI on inter-industry wage differentials: The case of Mexico," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 381-397.

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    JEL classification:

    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations

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