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Self-employment in the global economy

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  • Federico J. Díez
  • Ali K. Ozdagli
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    Abstract

    This paper studies the eff ects of foreign competition on self-employment levels. We begin by pointing out a previously unknown fact: the greater the exposure to foreign competition, the smaller the fraction of self-employed people. This fact holds across very different countries, across relatively similar countries like European Union members, and across industries within the United States. We develop a model where heterogeneous agents select themselves into being either employees or self-employed in the spirit of Lucas (1978). This, in turn, translates into intra-industry firm heterogeneity as in Melitz (2003). Self-employed agents (firms) can also decide to enter into the export markets, subject to fixed and variable trade costs. The model delivers three basic predictions: (1) domestic self-employment increases with the trade costs of exporting from a foreign country to the home country, (2) domestic self-employment increases with the trade costs of exporting to the foreign country, and (3) higher levels of self-employment are associated with a lower fraction of exporting firms. Our empirical work on inter-industry data for the United States confirms these predictions of the model.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in its series Working Papers with number 11-5.

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    Date of creation: 2011
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    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbwp:11-5

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    Keywords: Self-employed ; International trade ; Tariff;

    References

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    1. Elhanan Helpman & Oleg Itskhoki & Stephen Redding, 2010. "Inequality and Unemployment in a Global Economy," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(4), pages 1239-1283, 07.
    2. Antras, Pol & Helpman, Elhanan, 2004. "Global Sourcing," Scholarly Articles 3196327, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    3. Luis Garicano & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2006. "Organization and Inequality in a Knowledge Economy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(4), pages 1383-1435, November.
    4. Robert E. Lucas Jr., 1978. "On the Size Distribution of Business Firms," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 9(2), pages 508-523, Autumn.
    5. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Stephen Redding & Peter K. Schott, 2007. "Firms in International Trade," CEP Discussion Papers dp0795, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    6. Franziska Ohnsorge & Daniel Trefler, 2007. "Sorting It Out: International Trade with Heterogeneous Workers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115(5), pages 868-892, October.
    7. David G. Blanchflower, 2000. "Self-Employment in OECD Countries," NBER Working Papers 7486, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Arnaud Costinot & Jonathan Vogel, 2009. "Matching and Inequality in the World Economy," NBER Working Papers 14672, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Luis Garicano & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2006. "The Knowledge Economy at the Turn of the Twentieth Century: The Emergence of Hierarchies," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 4(2-3), pages 396-403, 04-05.
    10. Monte, Ferdinando, 2011. "Skill bias, trade, and wage dispersion," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 202-218, March.
    11. Evans, David S & Jovanovic, Boyan, 1989. "An Estimated Model of Entrepreneurial Choice under Liquidity Constraints," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 808-27, August.
    12. repec:hrv:faseco:4784029 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Parker,Simon C., 2009. "The Economics of Entrepreneurship," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521728355.
    14. Evans, David S & Leighton, Linda S, 1989. "Some Empirical Aspects of Entrepreneurship," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 519-35, June.
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