On the Distributional Effects of Trade Policy: Dynamics of Household Saving and Asset Prices
Luis San Vicente Portes
Montclair State University
August 21, 2006
This paper studies the effect of trade liberalization on inequality. We develop a theoretical framework that generates economy-wide distributions of wealth and income for different levels of trade protection. The model unambiguously determines the short-term and long-term effect of liberalization on inequality; and rationalizes why larger inequality can be the outcome of a welfare enhancing policy, as households reduce their buffer savings when liberalization lowers the price of food. The framework reconciles the increase in inequality, the fall in the value of land, and small farmers' opposition to freer trade, that have featured in different liberalization episodes. We also present empirical support for the model's predictions.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 36
Keywords: Free trade, trade liberalization, inequality, heterogeneous agents, subsistence
JEL Classification: E60, F13, F40, O13, Q17working papers series
Date posted: September 17, 2005
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