NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Looking for Local Labor Market Effects of NAFTA

John McLaren, Shushanik Hakobyan

NBER Working Paper No. 16535
Issued in November 2010
NBER Program(s):   ITI

Using US Census data for 1990-2000, we estimate effects of NAFTA on US wages. We look for effects of the agreement by industry and by geography, measuring each industry’s vulnerability to Mexican imports, and each locality’s dependance on vulnerable industries. We find evidence of both effects, dramatically lowering wage growth for blue-collar workers in the most affected industries and localities (even for service-sector workers in affected localities). These distributional effects are much larger than aggregate welfare effects estimated by other authors. In addition, we find strong evidence of anticipatory adjustment in places whose protection was expected to fall but had not yet fallen; this adjustment appears to have conferred an anticipatory rent to workers in those locations.

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This paper was revised on January 31, 2012

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w16535

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