Recent Findings on Trade and Inequality
The 1990's dealt a blow to traditional Heckscher-Ohlin analysis of the relationship between trade and income inequality, as it became clear that rising inequality in low- income countries and other features of the data were inconsistent with that model. As a result, economists moved away from trade as a plausible explanation for rising income inequality. In recent years, however, a number of new mechanisms have been explored through which trade can affect (and usually increase) income inequality. These include within-industry effects due to heterogeneous firms; effects of offshoring of tasks; effects on incomplete contracting; and effects of labor-market frictions. A number of these mechanisms have received substantial empirical support.
The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.