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This thesis consists of three chapters, all of which focus on the rise of
China as a quasi-natural experiment in order to assess the effects of foreign
trade shocks on the political economy of trade policy and on the dynamics of
labor markets and earnings inequality in Brazil. In the first chapter, we use
evidence on the differential exposure across local labor markets to this China
shock in order to estimate its effect on Brazilian labor markets outcomes, in
particular on measures of income inequality. First, we find that the export
demand shock has decreased wage inequality in the tradables sector, mostly
through the between-firms component of wage dispersion, and provide evidence
that this reduction seems driven by a change in wage-setting behavior of
firms, and may be linked to a reduction in the wage premium of exporter
firms. We then estimate a model based on Helpman et al. (2016), and explore
sectoral differences in the foreign demand shock to run counterfactual exercises
that support the hypothesis that this shock can explain part of the aggregate
reduction in the exporter wage premium and in wage dispersion. In the second
chapter, we develop a version of the dynamic trade model by Caliendo et
al. (2019) in order to estimate the effects of the dual China shock on the
sectoral dynamics of Brazilian employment. We show that both shocks lead to
a contraction in most manufacturing sectors, and an expansion in most services
sectors, but the general equilibrium effects of the shocks are modest, especially
if compared to an alternative counterfactual in which Brazilian productivity
in primary sectors increase. We then extend the model to include two types of
labor, skilled and unskilled. Results also point to small distributional effects
of the China shock, but consistent with reduced-form evidence obtained in
Chapter 1. In the final chapter, we build a novel dataset on Brazilian trade
associations’ characteristics in order to investigate whether industries with
higher capacity of political organization are able to obtain more protection
from foreign competitors. We use variation in import penetration as a measure
of the need for trade protection, and address endogeneity on this measure by
using an instrumental variables strategy based on the China import shock.
Evidence suggests that industries with larger employer unions are able to
obtain more protection, particularly through non-automatic licensing; the
estimates suggest that this effect is higher when import penetration increases
more intensely, which is interpreted as increased need for protective measures.