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Labor market integration in the presence of social capital

  • Schiff, Maurice

Labor market integration is typically assumed to improve welfare in the absence of distortions, because it allows labor to move to where returns are highest. The author examines this result in a simple general equilibrium model in the presence of a common property resource: social capital. Drawing on evidence that social capital raises productivity and falls with labor mobility, the author's main findings are that: 1) Labor market integration imposes a negative externality and need not raise welfare. 2) The welfare impact is more beneficial (or less harmful) the greater the difference in endowments is between the integrating regions. 3) Whether positive or negative, the welfare impact is larger the more similar the levels of social capital of the integrating regions are and the lower the migration costs are. 4) Trade liberalization generates an additional benefit -- over and above the standard gains from trade -- by reducing labor mobility and the negative externality associated with it. Trade liberalization is superior to labor market integration. 5) The creation of new private or public institutions in response to labor market integration may reduce welfare. The author shows that the welfare implications depend on two parameters of the model, the curvature of the utility function and the cost of private migration.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 2222.

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Date of creation: 30 Nov 1999
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2222
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  1. Narayan, Deepa & Pritchett, Lant, 1999. "Cents and Sociability: Household Income and Social Capital in Rural Tanzania," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 47(4), pages 871-97, July.
  2. Lederman, Daniel & Loayza, Norman & Menendez, Ana Maria, 2002. "Violent Crime: Does Social Capital Matter?," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 50(3), pages 509-39, April.
  3. Iannaccone, Laurence R, 1992. "Sacrifice and Stigma: Reducing Free-Riding in Cults, Communes, and Other Collectives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(2), pages 271-91, April.
  4. Becker, Gary S, 1974. "A Theory of Social Interactions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1063-93, Nov.-Dec..
  5. Ramón López & Maurice Schiff, 1998. "Migration and the Skill composition of the Labor Force: The Impact of Trade Liberalization in LDCs," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 31(2), pages 318-336, May.
  6. Masahisa Fujita & Paul Krugman & Anthony J. Venables, 2001. "The Spatial Economy: Cities, Regions, and International Trade," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262561476, June.
  7. Rosenbloom, Joshua L., 1990. "Labor Market Institutions and the Geographic Integration of Labor Markets in the Late Nineteenth-Century United States," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 50(02), pages 440-441, June.
  8. Markusen, James R., 1983. "Factor movements and commodity trade as complements," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3-4), pages 341-356, May.
  9. Knack, Stephen & Keefer, Philip, 1997. "Does Social Capital Have an Economic Payoff? A Cross-Country Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1251-88, November.
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