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Abstract

A key dynamic implication of the Becker model of discrimination (1957) is that increased product market competition will drive out costly discrimination in the long run. This paper tests that hypothesis by examining the impact of globalization on gender discrimination in manufacturing industries. Because concentrated industries face little competitive pressure, an increase in competition from trade should reduce the residual gender wage gap more in these industries than in competitive industries. The authors compare the change in the gender wage gap between 1976 and 1993 in concentrated versus competitive manufacturing industries, using the latter as a control for changes in the gender wage gap that are unrelated to competitive pressures. They find that while trade increases wage inequality by modestly reducing the relative wages of less-skilled workers, at the same time it appears to benefit women by reducing the ability of firms to discriminate.

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