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Trade and Inequality in Developing Countries: An Empirical Assessment

  • Susan Zhu
  • Daniel Trefler

Developing and newly industrialized countries that have experienced the sharpest increases in wage inequality are those whose export shares have shifted towards more skill-intensive goods. We argue that this can be explained by technological catch-up. We develop this insight using a model that features both Ricardian and endowmentsbased comparative advantage. In this model Southern catch-up causes production of the least skill-intensive Northern goods to migrate South (where they become the most skill-intensive Southern goods). This raises wage inequality in both the South and the North. We provide empirical evidence that strongly supports this causal mechanism: Southern catch-up exacerbates Southern inequality by redirecting Southern export shares towards more skill-intensive goods

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2004 Meeting Papers with number 535.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed004:535
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  1. Werner Antweiler & Daniel Trefler, 2002. "Increasing Returns and All That: A View from Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 93-119, March.
  2. Berman, E. & Bound, J. & Machin, S., 1997. "Implications of Skill-Biased Technological Change: International Evidence," Papers 25, Centre for Economic Performance & Institute of Economics.
  3. Peter K. Schott, 2003. "One Size Fits All? Heckscher-Ohlin Specialization in Global Production," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 686-708, June.
  4. Robert C. Feenstra & Robert E. Lipsey & Harry P. Bowen, 1997. "World Trade Flows, 1970-1992, with Production and Tariff Data," NBER Working Papers 5910, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. R. Dornbusch & S. Fischer & P. A. Samuelson, 1976. "Comparative Advantage, Trade and Payments in a Ricardian Model With a Continuum of Goods," Working papers 178, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
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