The Political Economy of Trade and Labor Mobility in a Ricardian World
66 Pages Posted: 10 Jun 2015 Last revised: 8 Mar 2016
Date Written: March 2016
We explore the political economy of trade and labor mobility in a Ricardian world. We combine a Ricardian economy with a simple international political economy model as a basis for the determination of trade and labor mobility policies. We show that free trade can induce partial convergence, divergence or even a reversal of fortune in terms of the well-being of workers in every country, while free trade and free labor mobility lead to full convergence. We also show that free trade and no labor mobility is a Nash equilibrium of the political game, but free trade and free labor mobility is not. Thus, in a Ricardian world, the lack of convergence in levels of well-being across countries can be attributed to an international political equilibrium that blocks free labor mobility. We verify our main results under several variants of a Ricardian economy, including different assumptions about the set of goods, preferences and the number of countries involved. We also study two extensions of our model in which free trade and at least partial labor mobility is a Nash equilibrium of the political game. One extension introduces increasing returns to scale while the other an extractive elite.
Keywords: International Trade, Labor Mobility, Trade Policy, Migration Policy, Covergence
JEL Classification: D78, F13, F22
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