Trade Liberalization and Wage Inequality: Evidence from India
21 Pages Posted: 31 Mar 2008
We evaluate empirically the impact of the dramatic 1991 trade liberalization in India on the industry wage structure. The empirical strategy uses variation in industry wage premiums and trade policy across industries and over time. In contrast to most earlier studies on developing countries, we find a strong, negative, and robust relationship between changes in trade policy and changes in industry wage premiums over time. The results are consistent with liberalization-induced productivity increases at the firm level, which get passed on to industry wages. We also find that trade liberalization has led to decreased wage inequality between skilled and unskilled workers in India. This is consistent with the magnitude of tariff reductions being relatively larger in sectors with a higher proportion of unskilled workers.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation