Trade Openness: Consequences for the Elasticity of Demand for Labor and Wage Outcomes
Leamer (1995), Rodrik (1997) and Wood (1995) have suggested, without qualification, that the demand-for-labor curve is more elastic when an economy is open than when it is closed. I demonstrate that this proposition is not valid in general. The proposition can be violated in both the 2x2 and specific-factors models. Furthermore, many of the results obtained by Rodrik (1997), assuming the proposition to be true, fail to hold in general when we spell out the full structure of the model. Thus, within two most popular models of trade--the 2x2 and specific-factors models--, there is no guarantee that openness leads to a greater incidence of higher labor standards being borne by workers or to greater volatility in wage earnings as a consequence of shocks to the economy. It is also not true in general that when openness lowers the bargaining power of workers, it contributes negatively to wages. In the 2x2 model, exactly the opposite may happen.
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- Magee, Stephen P, 1971. "Factor Market Distortions, Production, Distribution, and the Pure Theory of International Trade," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 85(4), pages 623-43, November.
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- Hakura, D. & Deardorff, A.V., 1993. "Trade and Wages: What Are the Questions?," Working Papers 341, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
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