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Has Globalization Deepened Income Inequality in Mexico?

By Fernando Borraz and Jose Ernesto Lopez-Cordova. Reading for Tuesday, 3 April.

In this paper we use household survey data to study the evolution of income distribution in Mexico over the last decade, a period of rapid integration to the global and North American economies -- "globalization" for short. We measure differences in income inequality, over time and across Mexican states, and relate them to regional differences in the degree of globalization, controlling for the potential endogenous relationship between the two. We use the percent of state employment in exporting firms or in firms with foreign capital participation, as well as data on state trade, as proxies for integration to the world economy. Our findings strongly indicate that globalization has not raised income inequality in Mexico. On the contrary, we present compelling evidence showing that income distribution is more equitable in states that are more closely linked to the world economy and that those states exhibit larger declines in inequality. We also find some statistical evidence suggesting that deepening globalization results in reduced inequality, although our results are sketchier on this point, perhaps because such effect is only observable in the long run. As a potential explanation of why globalization might improve the distribution of income among Mexican households, we show that states that are more integrated to the world economy offer better work opportunities for low-skilled women relative to more educated female workers.

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