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What Has Happened to Wages in Mexico since NAFTA?

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  • Gordon H. Hanson

Abstract

In this paper, I examine the impacts of trade and investment liberalization on the wage structure of Mexico. Part one of the paper surveys recent literature on the labor-market consequences of Mexico's economic reforms in the 1980?s. Mexico's policy reforms appear to have raised the demand for skill in the country, reduced rents in industries that prior to reform paid their workers high wages, and raised the premium paid to workers in states along the U.S. border. These changes have resulted in an increase in wage dispersion in the country. Part two of the paper examines changes in Mexico's wage structure during the 1990's. In the last decade, Mexico has experienced rising returns to skill, which mirror closely wage movements in the United States. There is, however, little evidence of wage convergence between the two countries. Regional wage differentials in Mexico have widened and appear to be explained largely by variation in regional access to foreign trade and investment and in regional opportunities for migration to the United States. I discuss implications of Mexico's experience for the rest of Latin America in the event a Free Trade Agreement of the Americas is enacted.

Suggested Citation

  • Gordon H. Hanson, 2003. "What Has Happened to Wages in Mexico since NAFTA?," NBER Working Papers 9563, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9563
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hanson, G.H. & Harrison, A., 1995. "Trade, Technology and Wage Inequality," Papers 95-20, Columbia - Graduate School of Business.
    2. Revenga, Ana, 1997. "Employment and Wage Effects of Trade Liberalization: The Case of Mexican Manufacturing," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(3), pages 20-43, July.
    3. Aitken, Brian & Harrison, Ann & Lipsey, Robert E., 1996. "Wages and foreign ownership A comparative study of Mexico, Venezuela, and the United States," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-4), pages 345-371, May.
    4. Raymond Robertson, 2000. "Wage Shocks and North American Labor-Market Integration," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 742-764, September.
    5. Feenstra, Robert C. & Hanson, Gordon H., 1997. "Foreign direct investment and relative wages: Evidence from Mexico's maquiladoras," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-4), pages 371-393, May.
    6. 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.
    7. Hanson, Gordon H, 1997. "Increasing Returns, Trade and the Regional Structure of Wages," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(440), pages 113-133, January.
    8. David Fairris, 2003. "Unions and Wage Inequality in Mexico," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 56(3), pages 481-497, April.
    9. Hanson, Gordon H, 1996. "Localization Economies, Vertical Organization, and Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(5), pages 1266-1278, December.
    10. Edward E. Leamer, 1992. "Wage Effects of A U.S. - Mexican Free Trade Agreement," NBER Working Papers 3991, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Wolfgang F. Stolper & Paul A. Samuelson, 1941. "Protection and Real Wages," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(1), pages 58-73.
    12. Zadia M. Feliciano, 1998. "Does the Minimum Wage Affect Employment in Mexico?," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 24(2), pages 165-180, Spring.
    13. Robertson, Raymond, 2004. "Relative prices and wage inequality: evidence from Mexico," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 387-409, December.
    14. 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.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F1 - International Economics - - Trade
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs

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