Free Trade and Subnational Development: Economic Activity and Human Welfare

John Cruzatti Constantine*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

This paper delves into the subnational relationship between free trade agreements (FTAs) and human development worldwide. Utilizing a difference-in-differences and an event-study approach with high-spatial-resolution land-cover data and a comprehensive time series of national-level FTA indicators for 207 countries, the study quantifies the effects of FTAs on subnational development. The findings indicate a small negative impact of FTAs on the Human Development Index but a notable positive impact on economic activity, with urbanized regions benefiting the most. Unequal and more vulnerable regions grapple with declining human development indicators. The depth of FTAs does not sway these outcomes. These patterns raise questions about the inclusivity and equitable distribution of the benefits of trade liberalization. While prior literature has examined the national implications of FTAs, this paper provides insight into the subnational repercussions of FTAs and emphasizes the role of inequality in hindering holistic developmental benefits from FTAs.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe World Bank Economic Review
Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2024

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