Thesis Defense Announcement

College of Arts and Sciences announces the Final Thesis Defense of

Samia Tasmim

for the Degree of Master of Arts

June 13, 2019 at 11:00 AM Clement Hall- Room 203

Advisor: Junmin Wang

Free Trade Agreements and the Resulting Health Outcomes: Trade Flow, Knowledge Spillover, and Government Regulations Among Developing Countries.

ABSTRACT: Free trade agreements (FTAs) are provisions under which countries give each other preferential treatment in trade, such as abolishing tariffs and other barriers on goods. How FTAs affect the health conditions of the developing world has been widely debated in the current literature. On the one hand, the augmentation of transnational trade of frozen or processed food (e.g., those containing excessive artificial flavor, color, salt, sugar, and fat, etc.) is found to deteriorate people's consumption habits and thus negatively impact their health status. On the other hand, numerous studies show that FTAs, associated with fewer trade barriers, more business opportunities, easier flows of goods and services have advanced agreed countries' economic growth and allowed their governments to spend more on healthcare, therefore leading to substantial improvement in many health-related outcomes. In this study, I re-tested the associations between FTAs and national health outcomes, measured by infant mortality, life expectancy, and adult death rate. I have focused on examining three mechanisms- firstly, increased trade liberalization and free trade instigate trade flows and attracts foreign direct investments that benefit the economy; secondly, global diffusion of ideas and knowledge influences health outcomes; and thirdly, improved health related policies and practices by government improves health. My empirical analysis is built on a 15-year panel data including 34 developing countries that have participated in FTAs. My preliminary analysis suggests when countries form trade agreements their trade volume expands, and life expectancy and infant mortality rates improves. When trade flows, developing countries get access to resources from developed ones, and focus on sanitation, vaccination, etc. that ultimately benefit population health. The significance level among immunization and health outcomes reaffirms that flow of ideas, knowledge as well as trade of pharmaceutical products become effortless among countries who eliminate trade barriers with agreements. Furthermore, results show that trade agreements stimulate export and import as a portion of GDP as well as merchandise trade that are positively associated with improved health outcomes.