Who Benefited from Trade Liberalization in Mexico? Measuring the Effects on Household Welfare

57 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016

See all articles by Alessandro Nicita

Alessandro Nicita

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

Date Written: April 7, 2004


This study performs an ex-post analysis of the effects of the trade liberalization in Mexico between 1989 and 2000, taking into account regional differences in the Mexican economy. The effects of trade liberalization are first translated into changes in regional prices and wages. Those estimates are plugged into a farm-household model to estimate the effect on households' welfare.

The findings suggest that trade liberalization has affected domestic prices and labor income differently both across income groups and geographically across the country, hence producing diverse outcomes on different households. Regarding prices, the results indicate that trade liberalization has lowered relative prices of most non-animal agricultural products and, while reducing the cost of consumption, has reduced households' agricultural income, widening the income gap between urban and rural areas. The findings also show that trade liberalization has had diverse effects on wage rates. Skilled workers, for which trade liberalization has produced an increase in wages, have benefited relative to unskilled workers. Wages of unskilled workers have in many regions decreased as a result of trade liberalization. Similar differences are found in the geographic distribution of the benefits of trade liberalization, with the states closest to the U.S. border gaining threefold more relative to the least developed states in the south. Therefore trade liberalization, although beneficial, has contributed to an increase in inequality between the south and the north of the country, urban and rural areas, and skilled and unskilled labor.

From a poverty perspective, the trade liberalization that occurred between 1989 and 2000 has had the direct effect of reducing poverty by about 3 percent, therefore lifting approximately 3 million individuals out of poverty.

This paper - a product of Trade, Development Research Group - is part of a larger effort in the group to study the linkages between trade and poverty.

Suggested Citation

Nicita, Alessandro, Who Benefited from Trade Liberalization in Mexico? Measuring the Effects on Household Welfare (April 7, 2004). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=610306

Alessandro Nicita (Contact Author)

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG) ( email )

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