Trade Boomers: Evidence from the Commodities-for-Manufactures Boom in Brazil

32 Pages Posted: 14 Oct 2020

See all articles by Jeff Chan

Jeff Chan

Wilfrid Laurier University

Ridwan Karim

Wilfrid Laurier University

Date Written: August 24, 2020


China’s growing prominence as a trade superpower has placed competitive pressure on manufacturing industries in Brazil, while simultaneously bolstering demand for its commodities. We investigate the effects of this so-called manufactures-for-commodities boom on Brazilian birth outcomes from 2000-2010. Exploiting exogenous variation in patterns of trade growth with China across different regions within Brazil, we find that both import and export growth led to higher birth weights for babies, lower infant mortality, and lower birth rates. Additional evidence is consistent with income effects playing a role in explaining our results, while ruling out better provision of healthcare and changes to household composition as mechanisms. We also find that negative import shocks reduced fertility rates across all age groups for women, suggesting that selectivity in births induced by negative income shocks, combined with concentration of household resources on the children that are born led to better infant health outcomes. We also explore changes in trade-induced pollution levels and social assistance programs as a potential mechanism. Our findings indicate that increased import and export growth can improve infant health, highlighting another potential benefit from trade liberalization.

Keywords: Infant health, fertility rates, infant mortality, Birth-weight, trade shocks, China shock

JEL Classification: O24, F61, F63

Suggested Citation

Chan, Jeff and Karim, Ridwan, Trade Boomers: Evidence from the Commodities-for-Manufactures Boom in Brazil (August 24, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Jeff Chan

Wilfrid Laurier University ( email )

75 University Avenue West
Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3C5

Ridwan Karim (Contact Author)

Wilfrid Laurier University ( email )

75 University Ave W
waterloo, ontario N2L 3C5

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