Inequality and Trade

Devashish Mitra, Vitor Trindade

NBER Working Paper No. 10087
Issued in November 2003
NBER Program(s):   ITI

We incorporate demand-side considerations in trade in a systematic but straightforward way. We do so by focusing on the role of inequality in the determination of trade flows and patterns. With nonhomothetic preferences, when countries are similar in all respects but asset inequality, we find that trade is driven by specialization in consumption, not production. These assumptions allow us to generate some interesting international spillover effects of redistributive policies. We also look at the effects of combining inequality and endowment differences on trade flows, and see that this has implications for the mystery of the missing trade.' We then study a model of monopolistic competition, and find a novel V-shaped relationship between the ratio of inter-industry to intra-industry trade and a country's inequality. Finally, we look at how international differences in factor endowments affect this relationship between the ratio of inter- to- intra-industry trade and inequality. Our theory formalizes as well as modifies Linder's conjecture about the relationship between intraindustry trade and the extent of similarity between trading partners.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w10087

Published: Mitra, Devashish and Vitor Trindade. "Inequality And Trade," Canadian Journal of Economics, 2005, v38(4,Nov), 1253-1271. citation courtesy of

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