Do Imports Increase Unemployment? Empirical Estimates That Are Not Model Dependent

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Some Ricardian models would predict a fall in unemployment with trade liberalization. In contrast, the Heckscher-Ohlin model (Stolper Samuelson Theorem) would predict trade liberalization would cause a fall in wages for labor scarce countries, resulting in greater unemployment if there are wage rigidities. The choice of which theoretical model is used affects the empirical results obtained. This paper produces estimates of the change in unemployment due to a change in imports that are not model dependent. The estimates produced are total derivatives that capture all the ways that imports and unemployment are correlated. I find that unemployment increases with increased imports for Austria, Greece, Japan, Portugal, South Korea, Slovenia, and Sweden, but that unemployment decreases with increased imports for Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, the UK, and the US.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)447-469
Number of pages23
JournalFrontiers of Economics in China
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Donald Trump
  • Employment
  • Gains from trade
  • Gross domestic product
  • Imports
  • Protectionism
  • Trade wars
  • Unemployment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


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