A SURVEY OF TRADE AND WAGE INEQUALITY: ANOMALIES, RESOLUTIONS AND NEW TRENDS

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Abstract

This paper surveys recent studies on trade and wage inequality. We first introduce some trade-based explanations for increased wage inequality. There are, however, a number of criticisms of this line of thought based on the ‘trade-wage inequality anomaly’, the ‘price-wage anomaly’, and the small volume of trade. Mainly due to these criticisms, trade-based explanations for rising wage inequality have been limited in the economic literature. Rather, the primary explanations for wage inequality have been based on skill-biased technological change. Some trade models, however, have weakened the above criticisms, and more economists now argue that the effect of trade, though relatively small compared to that of technological change, is more significant than generally believed. Finally, we attempt to link new trends in inequality, such as job polarization and within-group inequality, to the trade and wage inequality literature.

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