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Trade, Migration and Regional Income Differences: Evidence from China

Author

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  • Xiaodong Zhu

    (University of Toronto)

  • Trevor Tombe

    (University of Calgary)

Abstract

International trade is closely related to within-country trade and migration. To study these interrelationships, we develop a novel general equilibrium model of internal and external trade with migration, featuring both trade and migration frictions. We estimate these frictions using unique data on China's trade and migration; the costs are high, but declined after 2000. We quantify the consequences of lower trade costs (international and internal) and migration costs on welfare, internal migration, and regional income differences. External trade liberalization increases China's trade, but only modestly increases welfare while increasing regional income differences. Internal trade liberalization has large welfare gains and reduces regional income differences. Migration cost reductions dramatically increase migration and lower regional income differences but -- surprisingly -- only modestly increase trade and aggregate welfare, mainly because the migration costs remain very high. In a counterfactual exercise in which we lower the migration costs in China to the levels similar to those in the US, we find very large increases in both trade and aggregate welfare. Our results suggest internal reforms dominate external trade liberalization as a source of aggregate welfare gains and improvements in regional income inequality.

Suggested Citation

  • Xiaodong Zhu & Trevor Tombe, 2015. "Trade, Migration and Regional Income Differences: Evidence from China," 2015 Meeting Papers 1534, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed015:1534
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Pei-Ju Liao & Ping Wang & Yin-Chi Wang & Chong Kee Yip, 2017. "Educational Choice, Rural-urban Migration and Economic Development," NBER Working Papers 23939, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Maximiliano Dvorkin & Fernando Parro & Lorenzo Caliendo, 2015. "The Impact of Trade on Labor Market Dynamics," 2015 Meeting Papers 1532, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Li, Baoxi & Cheng, Shixiong & Xiao, De, 2020. "The impacts of environmental pollution and brain drain on income inequality," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 62(C).
    4. Li, Bingjing, 2018. "Export expansion, skill acquisition and industry specialization: evidence from china," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 346-361.
    5. Lorenzo Caliendo & Maximiliano Dvorkin & Fernando Parro, 2019. "Trade and Labor Market Dynamics: General Equilibrium Analysis of the China Trade Shock," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 87(3), pages 741-835, May.

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