Explain the mechanism referred to in the above statement using the Heckscher-Ohlin model.

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“Trade between advanced countries that are abundant in capital and skill and NIEs (Newly Industrialising Economies) with their abundant supply of unskilled labour was raising the wages of highly skilled workers and lowering the wages of less-skilled workers in the skill- and capital-abundant countries ” (Krugman, Obstfeld and Melitz). Explain the mechanism referred to in the above statement using the Heckscher-Ohlin model. The Heckscher-Ohlin model is extremely useful when illustrating how endowments of a particular resource can influence trade between economies. The model shows us how comparative advantage is explained somewhat by the relative abundance of certain resources, such as land, labour or capital. The Heckscher-Ohlin (HO)…show more content…
Assuming the demand schedule is identical in both countries, then without trade, Foreign’s own market equilibrium is at ‘1’ and Home’s equilibrium for cars is at ‘2’. When the two countries trade, the relative ‘world’ price converges to a point somewhere in between these two points at ‘3’. We can see from the above illustration that trade leads to a convergence of world prices at point 3. The Foreign economy will therefore export the good that has seen an increase in its relative price. Now that we have seen how prices change under the assumptions of the HO model, I will now explain how these changes have an impact on the distribution of income in countries open to trade. A rise in the prices of cars increases the purchasing power of skilled labour (the abundant factor) in the foreign country in terms of both goods. At the same time it decreases the purchasing power of unskilled labour (the scarce factor) in terms of both goods. So by opening up to trade, the owners of the abundant factor become better off, whilst owners of the scarce factor become worse off. Theoretically, opening to trade should increase the consumption possibilities for the whole economy, allowing everyone to gain a higher utility. So why do some people become worse off, post-trade under the HO model? The underlying issue is that trade only changes relative prices of factors, which has a direct effect on the relative earnings of those

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