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Predicting the poverty impacts of trade reform

  • Hertel, Thomas W.
  • Reimer, Jeffrey J.

An important area of research in recent years involves assessing the microeconomic implications of macro-level policies-particularly those related to international trade. While a wide range of research methodologies are available for assessing the microeconomic incidence of micro-policies, as well as for assessing the effect of macro-level policies on markets and broad groups of households, there is a gap when it comes to eliciting the disaggregated household and firm level effects of trade policies. Recent research addresses this knowledge gap and the present survey offers an overview of this literature. The preponderance of the evidence from the studies encompassed by this survey points to the dominance of earnings-side effects over consumption-side effects of trade reform. This is problematic, since household surveys are notable for their underreporting of income. From the perspective of the poor, it is the market for unskilled labor that is most important. The poverty effects of trade policy often hinge crucially on how well the increased demand for labor in one part of the economy is transmitted to the rest of the economy by way of increased wages, increased employment, or both. Further econometric research aimed at discriminating between competing factor mobility hypotheses is urgently needed.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 3444.

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Date of creation: 01 Nov 2004
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3444
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