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A Sorted Tale of Globalization: White Collar Jobs and the Rise of Service Offshoring

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  • Runjuan Liu
  • Daniel Trefler

Abstract

We study how the rise of trade in services with China and India has impacted U.S. labour markets. The topic has two understudied aspects: it deals with service trade (most studies deal with manufacturing trade) and it examines the historical first of U.S. workers competing with educated but low-wage foreign workers. Our empirical agenda is made complicated by the endogeneity of service imports and the endogenous sorting of workers across occupations. To develop an estimation framework that deals with these, we imbed a partial equilibrium model of ‘trade in tasks’ within a general equilibrium model of occupational choice. The model highlights the need to estimate labour market outcomes using changes in the outcomes of individual workers and, in particular, to distinguish workers who switch ‘up’ from those who switch ‘down’. (Switching ‘down’ means switching to an occupation that pays less on average than the current occupation). We apply these insights to matched CPS data for 1996-2007. The cumulative 10-year impact of rising service imports from China and India has been as follows. (1) Downward and upward occupational switching increased by 17% and 4%, respectively. (2) Transitions to unemployment increased by a large 0.9 percentage points. (3) The earnings of occupational ‘stayers’ fell by a tiny 2.3%. (4) The earnings impact for occupational switchers is not identified without an assumption about worker sorting. Under the assumption of no worker sorting, downward (upward) switching was associated with an earning change of -13.9% (+12.1%). Under the assumption of worker sorting, there is no statistically significant impact on earnings.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17559.

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Date of creation: Nov 2011
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17559

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References

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  1. Davidson, Carl & Heyman, Fredrik & Matusz, Steven & Sjöholm, Fredrik & Zhu, Susan Chun, 2011. "Globalization and Imperfect Labor Market Sorting," Working Papers 2011:25, Lund University, Department of Economics.
  2. Oecd, 2005. "Potential Offshoring of ICT-intensive Using Occupations," OECD Digital Economy Papers 91, OECD Publishing.
  3. Linda Goldberg & Joseph Tracy, 2001. "Exchange Rates and Wages," NBER Working Papers 8137, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Avraham Ebenstein & Ann Harrison & Margaret McMillan & Shannon Phillips, 2009. "Why are American Workers getting Poorer? Estimating the Impact of Trade and Offshoring Using the CPS," NBER Working Papers 15107, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Erhan Artuc & Shubham Chaudhuri & John McLaren, 2007. "Trade Shocks and Labor Adjustment: A Structural Empirical Approach," NBER Working Papers 13465, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Moscarini, Giuseppe & Thomsson, Kaj, 2006. "Occupational and Job Mobility in the US," Working Papers 19, Yale University, Department of Economics.
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  10. Runjuan Liu & Daniel Trefler, 2008. "Much Ado About Nothing: American Jobs and the Rise of Service Outsourcing to China and India," NBER Working Papers 14061, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Kambourov, Gueorgui & Manovskii, Iourii, 2004. "Rising Occupational and Industry Mobility in the United States: 1968-1993," IZA Discussion Papers 1110, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Alan S. Blinder & Alan B. Krueger, 2009. "Alternative Measures of Offshorability: A Survey Approach," NBER Working Papers 15287, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Robert Gibbons & Lawrence F. Katz, 1989. "Does Unmeasured Ability Explain Inter-Industry Wage Differentials?," NBER Working Papers 3182, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Avraham Ebenstein & Ann Harrison & Margaret McMillan & Shannon Phillips, 2009. "Estimating the Impact of Trade and Offshoring on American Workers Using the Current Population Surveys," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0742, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
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  16. Harrison, Ann & McMillan, Margaret S. & Null, Clair, 2006. "US multinational activity abroad and US jobs: substitutes or complements?," MPRA Paper 36277, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  17. Rosario Crinò, 2007. "Service Offshoring and White-Collar Employment," CESifo Working Paper Series 2040, CESifo Group Munich.
  18. David Neumark & Daiji Kawaguchi, 2001. "Attrition Bias in Economic Relationships Estimated with Matched CPS Files," NBER Working Papers 8663, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Joseph Tracy & Linda Goldberg & Stephanie Aaronson, 1999. "Exchange Rates and Employment Instability: Evidence from Matched CPS Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 204-210, May.
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  22. Franziska Ohnsorge & Daniel Trefler, 2004. "Sorting It Out: International Trade and Protection With Heterogeneous Workers," NBER Working Papers 10959, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Chiara Criscuolo & Luis Garicano, 2010. "Offshoring and Wage Inequality: Using Occupational Licensing as a Shifter of Offshoring Costs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 439-43, May.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Ejaz Ghani & William R. Kerr & Christopher T. Stanton, 2012. "Diasporas and Outsourcing: Evidence from oDesk and India," NBER Working Papers 18474, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Melitz, Marc J. & Trefler, Daniel, 2012. "Gains from Trade When Firms Matter," Scholarly Articles 10914282, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Erhan Artuç & John McLaren, 2012. "Trade Policy and Wage Inequality: A Structural Analysis with Occupational and Sectoral Mobility," NBER Working Papers 18503, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Davidson, Carl & Heyman, Fredrik & Matusz, Steven & Sjöholm, Fredrik & Zhu, Susan Chun, 2014. "Global Engagement and the Occupational Structure of Firms," Working Papers 2014:22, Lund University, Department of Economics.
  5. Jonathan Haskel & Robert Z. Lawrence & Edward E. Leamer & Matthew J. Slaughter, 2012. "Globalization and U.S. Wages: Modifying Classic Theory to Explain Recent Facts," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 26(2), pages 119-40, Spring.
  6. Semih Akcomak & Henri de Groot & Stefan Groot, 2013. "The impact of trade, offshoring and multinationals on job loss and job finding," CPB Discussion Paper 252, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
  7. Sethupathy, Guru, 2013. "Offshoring, wages, and employment: Theory and evidence," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 73-97.
  8. Basco, Sergi & Mestieri, Martí, 2013. "Heterogeneous trade costs and wage inequality: A model of two globalizations," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2), pages 393-406.

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