Working Paper
Trade Liberalization and the Self-employed in Mexico

In this paper I examine the trend in income inequality and poverty among the self-employed workers in Mexico over the last two decades (1984–2002). This is the period over which Mexico opened its economy to the global market through trade and investment liberalization. For the first decade following the liberalization, inequality and poverty among the self-employed increased; as the economy stabilized and the country saw economic growth inequality started to go down, but poverty kept increasing. To understand the changes in inequality and poverty I decompose the inequality and poverty indices into within and between group components. Rising returns to skilled labour, regional differences in impact of liberalization and sectoral shifts in employment are important factors in explaining the trends in both inequality and poverty.