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Education bias of trade liberalization and wage inequality in developing countries

Dawood Mamoon and Syed Mansoob Murshed

The Journal of International Trade & Economic Development, 2013, vol. 22, issue 4, 572-604

Abstract: The aim of this article is to examine the impact of increased trade on wage inequality in developing countries, and whether a higher human capital stock moderates this effect. We look at the skilled--unskilled wage differential. When better educated societies open up their economies, increased trade is likely to induce less inequality on impact because the supply of skills better matches demand. But greater international exposure also brings about technological diffusion, further raising skilled labour demand. This may raise wage inequality, in contrast to the initial egalitarian level effect of human capital. We attempt to measure these two opposing forces. We also employ a broad set of indicators to measure trade liberalization policies as well as general openness, which is an outcome, and not a policy variable. We further examine what type of education most reduces inequality. Our findings suggest that countries with a higher level of initial human capital do well on the inequality front, but human capital which accrues through the trade liberalization channel has inegalitarian effects. Our results also have implications for the speed at which trade policies are liberalized, the implication being that better educated nations should liberalize faster.

Date: 2013
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