Speaker: Brian McCaig, Australian National University
Abstract: Can a developing country reduce poverty by gaining increased market access to a large, rich country? The 2001 U.S.-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA) provides an excellent opportunity to examine this question as, unlike other bilateral trade agreements, the U.S. tariff cuts were not influenced by Vietnamese industries. Using variation in the structure of the labour force across provinces prior to the trade agreement, I construct provincial measures of U.S. tariffs. To address concerns over confounding trends between changes in provincial poverty and changes in provincial tariffs I follow two approaches: controlling for trends based on observable initial conditions and differencing away time invariant trends using pre-BTA data. I find that provinces that were more exposed to the U.S. tariff cuts experienced faster decreases in poverty between 2002 and 2004. Additionally, I document that the movement of workers across provinces is limited in scale, particularly for those with the low levels of education. Finally, I show that the most exposed provinces experienced faster wage growth for workers with low levels of education, but not for highly educated workers.