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SKILLED-UNSKILLED WAGE INEQUALITY AND URBAN UNEMPLOYMENT

By HAMID BELADI, AVIK CHAKRABARTI and SUGATA MARJIT

Abstract

"The impact of trade liberalization on the labor market in the North has drawn tremendous attention in the face of the growing skilled-unskilled wage gap but in the South it has been somewhat neglected. One of the key structural differences between the North and the South is that the South experiences a pronounced rural-urban migration in the presence of urban unemployment. We introduce this feature in the structure of a simple general equilibrium model to analyze the effects of trade liberalization and fragmentation on employment and the skilled-unskilled wage differential in the South. In particular, we show that while fragmentation necessarily improves the unskilled wage and the skilled wage, more lucrative global opportunities for the skilled final product, in the absence of fragmentation, can reduce the rural wage and increase urban unemployment. The effect of fragmentation, ceteris paribus, on the skilled-unskilled wage gap is sensitive to the degree of substitutability between land and unskilled labor. As such, fragmentation can magnify the increase in the skilled-unskilled wage gap resulting from an improvement in the terms of trade. It is also shown that a technological progress in the intermediate goods sector increases the skilled-unskilled wage gap and raises urban unemployment." ("JEL" F1, O1, F11, F12) Copyright (c) 2009 Western Economic Association International.

DOI identifier: 10.1111/j.1465-7295.2009.00247.x
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