IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Trade with Labor Market Distortions and Heterogeneous Labor: Why Trade Can Hurt


  • Kala Krishna
  • Abhiroop Mukhopadhyay
  • Cemile Yavas


This paper explains the differential impacts of trade on countries in terms of institutional differences which result in factor market distortions. We modify the Ricardian, Specific Factor and Hecksher Ohlin models of trade to capture these. Trade has both terms of trade effects and output effects. Both work to raise welfare in an undistorted economy. In a distorted economy, price effects work to improve welfare, while output effects work to reduce it. Large distorted countries are more likely to lose from trade as beneficial price effects are lower. In addition the greater the substitutability between goods, the more likely it is that welfare rises through trade.

Suggested Citation

  • Kala Krishna & Abhiroop Mukhopadhyay & Cemile Yavas, 2002. "Trade with Labor Market Distortions and Heterogeneous Labor: Why Trade Can Hurt," NBER Working Papers 9086, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9086
    Note: ITI

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1990. "Why Doesn't Capital Flow from Rich to Poor Countries?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 92-96, May.
    2. Gérard Roland & Thierry Verdier, 1999. "Transition and the output fall," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 7(1), pages 1-28, March.
    3. R. G. Lipsey & Kelvin Lancaster, 1956. "The General Theory of Second Best," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(1), pages 11-32.
    4. Olivier Blanchard & Michael Kremer, 1997. "Disorganization," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1091-1126.
    5. Ethier, Wilfred J, 1982. "Decreasing Costs in International Trade and Frank Graham's Argument for Protection," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(5), pages 1243-1268, September.
    6. Weiss, Andrew W, 1980. "Job Queues and Layoffs in Labor Markets with Flexible Wages," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(3), pages 526-538, June.
    7. Tito Boeri & Katherine Terrell, 2002. "Institutional Determinants of Labor Reallocation in Transition," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(1), pages 51-76, Winter.
    8. Dani Rodrik, 1987. "Policy Targeting with Endogenous Distortions: Theory of Optimum Subsidy Revisited," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(4), pages 903-911.
    9. Davis, Donald R, 1998. "Does European Unemployment Prop Up American Wages? National Labor Markets and Global Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 478-494, June.
    10. Richard A. Brecher, 1974. "Minimum Wage Rates and the Pure Theory of International Trade," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 88(1), pages 98-116.
    11. Brecher, Richard A., 1992. "An efficiency-wage model with explicit monitoring : Unemployment and welfare in an open economy," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1-2), pages 179-191, February.
    12. Brecher, Richard A., 1974. "Optimal commercial policy for a minimum-wage economy," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 139-149, May.
    13. Mussa, Michael, 1979. "The two-sector model in terms of its dual : A geometric exposition," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 513-526, November.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Krishna, Kala & Yavas, Cemile, 2005. "When trade hurts: Consumption indivisibilities and labor market distortions," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 413-427, December.
    2. Richard B. Freeman, 2004. "Trade Wars: The Exaggerated Impact of Trade in Economic Debate," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(1), pages 1-23, January.
    3. Youwen Zhang, 2011. "From Policy-driven Opening to Institutional Opening – A Discussion on Policy-imposed Distortion in China’s Economic Development," Chapters,in: China’s Economy in the Post-WTO Environment, chapter 10 Edward Elgar Publishing.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9086. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.