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The effects of trade openness on regional inequality in Mexico


This paper attempts to shed light on the debate about the effect of trade openness on regional inequality, by exploring the specific mechanisms through which this relationship might operate. It does so by testing the hypothesis, based on endogenous growth theory, that a region’s ability to capture the benefits of trade openness depends on key regional characteristics—its critical endowments—and therefore the degree to which trade will reduce regional inequality in a given country is mediated by the geographic distribution of its endowments. I test the hypothesis in Mexico, using statistical analysis of an original sub-national dataset that runs from 1940 to the present. The results indicate that opening up to trade benefits more those regions with lower levels of education, thereby tending to reduce regional inequality. However, opening up to trade also benefits more those regions with higher levels of income and infrastructure, thereby tending to increase regional inequality. This latter effect is greater than the former, so that the overall effect of trade openness is to increase regional inequality.

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Correspondence to Marcela González Rivas.

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González Rivas, M. The effects of trade openness on regional inequality in Mexico. Ann Reg Sci 41, 545–561 (2007).

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JEL Classification

  • R11
  • R12
  • R58