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International trade and polarization in the labor market

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  • Das, Satya P.

Abstract

The paper builds an argument that international trade can be an explanation behind polarization of employment in the labor market observed in developed countries such as UK and US It considers a small open economy, having production sectors which use three types of labor: high-skill, middle-skill and low-skill. The economy faces an increase in the relative price of the high-skill intensive sector. Using decision rules for choosing high-skill, middleskill and low-skill education, it is shown that such a terms-of- trade shock can lead to polarization: shrinkage of middle-skill jobs, combined with higher shares of high-skill as well as low-skill workers in the total workforce. The effects of off-shoring on wages and job composition are also studied. Off-shoring of low-skill and high-skill tasks, not middle-skill tasks, is shown to contribute towards polarization in job composition. --

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.5018/economics-ejournal.ja.2012-6
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Kiel Institute for the World Economy in its journal Economics: The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal.

Volume (Year): 6 (2012)
Issue (Month): 6 ()
Pages: 1-44

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Handle: RePEc:zbw:ifweej:20126

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Keywords: polarization in labor markets; hollowing out; wage inequality; skill biased technical change; terms of trade; off-shoring;

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  1. David H. Autor & Frank Levy & Richard J. Murnane, 2001. "The Skill Content of Recent Technological Change: An Empirical Exploration," NBER Working Papers 8337, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Emily Blanchard & Gerald Willmann, 2013. "Trade, Education, and the Shrinking Middle Class," CESifo Working Paper Series 4141, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Jaewon Jung & Jean Mercenier, 2010. "Routinization-Biased Technical Change, Globalization and Labor Market Polarization: Does Theory Fit the Facts?," Working Papers halshs-00856105, HAL.
  4. Arnaud Costinot & Jonathan Vogel, 2010. "Matching and Inequality in the World Economy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(4), pages 747-786, 08.
  5. Yeaple, Stephen Ross, 2005. "A simple model of firm heterogeneity, international trade, and wages," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 1-20, January.
  6. Robert C. Feenstra, 1998. "Integration of Trade and Disintegration of Production in the Global Economy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 31-50, Fall.
  7. Pham, Thi Kim Cuong, 2005. "Economic growth and status-seeking through personal wealth," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 407-427, June.
  8. Maarten Goos & Alan Manning, 2003. "Lousy and Lovely Jobs: the Rising Polarization of Work in Britain," CEP Discussion Papers dp0604, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  9. Galor, Oded & Zeira, Joseph, 1993. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(1), pages 35-52, January.
  10. Bernard, A.B. & Jensen, J.B., 1994. "Exporters, Skill Upgrading, and the Wage Gap," Working papers 94-30, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  11. Gene M. Grossman & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2006. "Trading Tasks: A Simple Theory of Offshoring," NBER Working Papers 12721, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Das, Satya P., 2006. "Trade, skill acquisition and distribution," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 118-141, October.
  13. Alexandra Spitz-Oener, 2006. "Technical Change, Job Tasks, and Rising Educational Demands: Looking outside the Wage Structure," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(2), pages 235-270, April.
  14. Galor, Oded, 2000. "Income distribution and the process of development," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(4-6), pages 706-712, May.
  15. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2008. "Trends in U.S. Wage Inequality: Revising the Revisionists," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(2), pages 300-323, May.
  16. Van Long, Ngo & Shimomura, Koji, 2004. "Relative wealth, status-seeking, and catching-up," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 53(4), pages 529-542, April.
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