Trade and Wage Inequality: Local Versus Global Comparative Advantages
DE-ISFOL La Sapienza Discussion Papers No. 6, 2008
33 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2010
Date Written: July 2008
This paper shows that disentangling the local and global dimensions of trade can be crucial to get a better understanding of the trade impact on wage inequality. In particular, it allows us to reconcile the empirical evidence with the Heckscher-Ohlin-Samuelson predictions. Our focus here is on Italy, which represents, in our opinion, an appropriate case study. As for local trade -within its own cone of diversification- Italy is specialized in the production of unskill-intensive goods, while for global trade -with respect to the other cone of diversification- it is mainly specialized in the production of skill-intensive goods. On the evidence of these specialization patterns, we point out that the local trade entails a strong impact on wage inequality. In particular, in line with the Heckscher-Ohlin-Samuelson predictions, the local export performance reduces wage inequality since it favours blue-collar workers. As for global trade, it affects and increases wage inequality through the export channel, again consistently with the Heckscher-Ohlin-Samuelson predictions.
Keywords: Trade specialization, Wage inequality, Skill premium
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