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Working Paper

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This paper investigates the impacts of free trade on the structure of urban systems, skill distribution, and income disparities. The paper proposes a model that integrates international trade theory and the theory of urban system. This is done in a two sector, spatial general equilibrium model of a North-South trade. Each country is populated with a continuum of unskilled workers with heterogeneous potential ability. Through differential training costs, workers with different potential ability can achieve the same productivity. Workers can acquire a skill by investing in training. Thus, skill distribution in both countries is determined endogenously in the model through self-selection. The economy produces a final good with the use of a high-tech intermediate input and unskilled workers. Horizontally differentiated skilled workers produce the high-tech intermediate input. Cities are formed in this model as a result of investment in setup cost, i.e., public infrastructures. I characterize two different types of spatial equilibria: a closed-economy equilibrium, in which each country consists of a system of cities without trade, and a free-trade equilibrium, in which we allow for trade between cities and countries.