Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation

Essais sur la libéralisation commerciale et les inégalités de revenus dans les pays en développement

Abstract : This thesis “Essays on Trade Liberalization and Income Inequality in Developing Countries” is in three essays.

The first chapter “Explaining Trade Flows: Traditional and New Determinants of Trade Patterns” deals with the hypothesis that countries trade according to their factor endowments: this is the factor abundance theory of Hecksher-Ohlin. This hypothesis is crucial for the link between trade and inequality. The relation between factor endowments and trade in goods (commodity version of Hecksher-Ohlin) provide mildly encouraging empirical results. But in the analysis of factor service trade and factor endowments (factor content version of HO), the results show that it performs poorly and reject strict HOV models in favor of modifications that allow for technology differences, consumer's preferences differences, increasing returns to scale or cost of trade. In this first paper we test if these “new” determinants help us to improve our estimation of trade patterns in commodities.
The results show that HOV is “alive and well” and furthermore that the “new” determinants have not more explanatory power in the period 1980-2000 compared with the period 1960-1980. Nonetheless adding the new determinants of factor content studies help us to improve the prediction of being specialized in different manufactured products. This result was already found by previous studies. That factor endowments matter is especially robust concerning specialization according to human capital endowment. This result is probably attributable to our distinguishing among three sorts of skills. More generally, the results in this chapter provide a further justification for our concentration in the next chapter on factor endowments as factors contributing to explain why trade has different effects on income inequality.

The second chapter “Openness and Inequality in Developing Countries: A New Look at the Evidence” deals with the heterogeneity among developing countries concerning factor endowments and the fact that all factor endowments do not benefit of trade openness even when there are important in a country. More precisely in this chapter we extend previous analyses that have relied only on two sorts of labor factor (skilled and unskilled) since we distinguish between two sorts of unskilled labor, non educated and primary educated, arguing that the impact of trade openness according to human capital is a non linear relationship. Indeed, with three types of labor (no education, basic and highly skilled), Wood (1994) argues that openness in poor countries might increase inequalities by helping those with basic education and leaving even further behind those with no education.
The results show that trade openness raises income inequalities both for non educated abundant countries and for highly educated abundant countries. Inversely trade liberalization decreases inequality for countries well endowed in primary educated labor. These results have not been established previously. They confirm Wood (1994) framework. Our results suggest that countries with at least 20% of primary educated labor will have decreasing inequalities during their liberalization, whereas countries with at least 20% of no educated labor will have increasing inequalities. In addition, once we control for country specificity we find also that trade increase income inequalities in capital abundant countries which support the HOS model.

The third chapter “Trade and Wage Inequality in Developing Countries: South-South Trade Matters” deals with wage inequality and South-South trade. Globalization does not only lead to increasing North-South (N-S) trade, the direction and composition of trade has also changed. More trade is carried out between developing countries, and more developing countries are now exporting manufactures. As developing-country markets become more important for other developing countries and the future trade liberalization will mainly concern South-South trade, we need to examine closely their trade policies and their impact on inequality. First, in accounting for heterogeneity in the South we might discover that upper middle income countries are the “Northern” countries of low income countries and that this South-South trade will increase wage inequality in those middle income countries and decreasing wage inequality in low income countries. In this chapter, we also explore if South-South trade and North-South impact differently on sector technological change, since this may explains a difference in the impact of South-South trade on wage inequality.
The chapter establishes several findings. First, we observe that South-South trade increases wage inequality in developing countries, and mainly in middle income countries. Second since S-S trade increases competitiveness in skill intensive products, S-S trade appears to bring technological change more biased towards skill intensive sector than N-S trade. The fact that S-S trade is more skill intensive sector oriented increase wage inequality for all developing countries (included low income countries). Whereas for middle income country the impact of S-S trade on increasing wage inequality is mainly direct (through the fact that they are the North in this S-S trade), for low income countries it is the indirect effect through the sector biased technological change which impact more on wage inequality.
Complete list of metadatas
Contributor : Agnès Carcenac <>
Submitted on : Friday, January 25, 2008 - 11:07:26 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, February 23, 2021 - 9:42:02 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Thursday, April 29, 2010 - 4:14:16 PM


  • HAL Id : tel-00217475, version 1


Julien Gourdon. Essais sur la libéralisation commerciale et les inégalités de revenus dans les pays en développement. Sciences de l'Homme et Société. Université d'Auvergne - Clermont-Ferrand I, 2007. Français. ⟨tel-00217475⟩



Record views


Files downloads