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Working Paper

On the Distributional Effects of International Tariffs

We provide a quantitative analysis of the distributional effects of the 2018 increase in tariffs by the US and its major trading partners. We build a trade model with incomplete asset markets and households that are heterogeneous in their age, income, wealth, and labor skill. When tariff revenues are used to reduce distortionary taxes on consumption, labor, and capital income, the average welfare loss from the trade war is equivalent to a permanent 0.1 percent reduction in consumption. Much larger welfare losses are concentrated among retirees and low-wealth households, while only wealthy households experience a welfare gain.

Working Papers of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland are preliminary materials circulated to stimulate discussion and critical comment on research in progress. They may not have been subject to the formal editorial review accorded official Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland publications. The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not represent the views of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland or the Federal Reserve System.

Suggested Citation

Carroll, Daniel R., and Sewon Hur. 2023. “On the Distributional Effects of International Tariffs.” Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Working Paper No. 20-18R2.