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International Trade and Labor-Demand Elasticities

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  • Matthew J. Slaughter
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    Abstract

    In this paper I try to determine whether international trade has been increasing the own-price elasticity of demand for U.S. labor in recent years. The empirial work yields three main results. First, from 1960 through 1990 demand for U.S. production labor became more elastic in manufacturing overall and in five of eight industries within manufacturing. Second, during this time U.S. nonproduction-labor demand did not become more elastic in manufacturing overall or in any of the 8 industries within manufacturing. If anything, demand seems to be growing less elastic over time. Third, the hypothesis that trade contributed to increased elasticities has mixed support at best. For production labor many trade variables have the predicted effect for specifications with only industry contols, but these predicted effects disappear when time controls are included as well. For nonproduction labor things are somewhat better, but time continues to be a very strong predictor of elasticity patterns. Thus the time series of labor-demand elasticities are explained largely by a residual, time itself. This result parallels the common finding in studies of rising wage inequality. Just as there appears to be a large unexplained residual for changing factor prices over time, there also appears to be a large unexplained residual for changing factor demand elasticities over time.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6262.

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    Date of creation: Nov 1997
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    Publication status: published as Slaughter, Matthew J. "International Trade And Labor - Demand Elasticities," Journal of International Economics, 2001, v54(1,Jun), 27-56.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6262

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    1. Kim B. Clark & Richard B. Freeman, 1979. "How Elastic is The Demand for Labor?," NBER Working Papers 0309, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Nickell, Stephen J & Symons, James, 1990. "The Real Wage-Employment Relationship in the United States," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(1), pages 1-15, January.
    3. Berndt, Ernst R. & Morrison, Catherine J., 1995. "High-tech capital formation and economic performance in U.S. manufacturing industries An exploratory analysis," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 9-43, January.
    4. Robert C. Feenstra, 1996. "U.S. Imports, 1972-1994: Data and Concordances," NBER Working Papers 5515, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Helpman, Elhanan, 1984. "A Simple Theory of International Trade with Multinational Corporations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(3), pages 451-71, June.
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    9. Robert C. Feenstra & Gordon H. Hanson, 1996. "Globalization, Outsourcing, and Wage Inequality," NBER Working Papers 5424, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. John M. Abowd, 1991. "Appendix: The NBER Immigration, Trade, and Labor Markets Data Files," NBER Chapters, in: Immigration, Trade and the Labor Market, pages 407-421 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Edward E. Leamer, 1996. "In Search of Stolper-Samuelson Effects on U.S. Wages," NBER Working Papers 5427, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Colin Lawrence & Robert Z. Lawrence, 1985. "Manufacturing Wage Dispersion: An End Game Interpretation," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 16(1), pages 47-116.
    13. Barry Bosworth & George L. Perry, 1994. "Productivity and Real Wages: Is There a Puzzle?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 25(1), pages 317-343.
    14. Revenga, Ana L, 1992. "Exporting Jobs? The Impact of Import Competition on Employment and Wages in U.S. Manufacturing," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(1), pages 255-84, February.
    15. Harrison, Ann E., 1994. "Productivity, imperfect competition and trade reform : Theory and evidence," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(1-2), pages 53-73, February.
    16. Levinsohn, James, 1993. "Testing the imports-as-market-discipline hypothesis," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1-2), pages 1-22, August.
    17. Abowd, John M & Lemieux, Thomas, 1993. "The Effects of Product Market Competition on Collective Bargaining Agreements: The Case of Foreign Competition in Canada," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(4), pages 983-1014, November.
    18. Dani Rodrik, 1997. "Has Globalization Gone Too Far?," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 57.
    19. Leamer, E.E., 1995. "The Heckscher-Ohlin Model in Theory and Practice," Princeton Studies in International Economics 77, International Economics Section, Departement of Economics Princeton University,.
    20. Borjas, George J & Ramey, Valerie A, 1995. "Foreign Competition, Market Power, and Wage Inequality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(4), pages 1075-1110, November.
    21. Anderson, Patricia M, 1993. "Linear Adjustment Costs and Seasonal Labor Demand: Evidence from Retail Trade Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(4), pages 1015-42, November.
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    Cited by:
    1. Fajnzylber, Pablo & Maloney, William F., 2000. "Labor demand andtrade reform in Latin America," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2491, The World Bank.
    2. Riccardo Faini & Anna M. Falzoni & Marzio Galeotti & Rodolfo Helg & Alessandro Turrini, 2001. "Importing Jobs And Exporting Firms? On The Wage And Employment Implications Of Italy’S Trade And Foreign Direct Investment Flows," International Trade 0103002, EconWPA.
    3. Spector, David, 2004. "Competition and the capital-labor conflict," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 25-38, February.
    4. Guglielmo Caporale & Mohammad Haq, 2002. "Manufacturing Wage Differentials and Employment in Some Scandinavian Countries, the U.S. and the U.K.: An Analysis of Variance Approach," Empirica, Springer, vol. 29(4), pages 289-304, December.
    5. Piekkola, Hannu & Haaparanta, Pertti, 1999. "Liquidity Constraints Faced by Firm and Employment," Discussion Papers 695, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
    6. repec:iza:izadps:dp1084 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Carlos A. Arango & Ängela Milena Rojas, 2003. "Demanda Laboral en el Sector Manufacturero Colombiano:1977-1999," BORRADORES DE ECONOMIA 002270, BANCO DE LA REPÚBLICA.
    8. 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.
    9. Stuart Glosser & Lonnie Golden, 2005. "Is labour becoming more or less flexible? Changing dynamic behaviour and asymmetries of labour input in US manufacturing," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 29(4), pages 535-557, July.
    10. Krishna, Pravin & Mitra, Devashish & Chinoy, Sajjid, 2001. "Trade liberalization and labor demand elasticities: evidence from Turkey," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 391-409, December.
    11. ?ule ?zler, 2013. "Worker Composition and Export Decision: Evidence from Colombia," Review of Economics & Finance, Better Advances Press, Canada, vol. 3, pages 33-52, November.
    12. Gerry Boyle; & Pauline McCormack, 1998. "Trade and Technological Explanations for Changes in Sectoral Labour Demand in OECD Economies," Economics, Finance and Accounting Department Working Paper Series n770598, Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting, National University of Ireland - Maynooth.
    13. Yener Kandogan, 2003. "On Types of Trade,Adjustment of Labor and Welfare Gains During Asymmetric Liberalizations," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 2003-568, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
    14. Ilham Haouas & Mahmoud Yagoubi, 2004. "Trade liberalization and demand labor elasticities : evidence from Tunisia," Documents de travail 94, Groupe d'Economie du Développement de l'Université Montesquieu Bordeaux IV.
    15. Kristin Forbes, 2001. "Skill classification does matter: estimating the relationship between trade flows and wage inequality," The Journal of International Trade & Economic Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(2), pages 175-209.
    16. Marianne Bertrand, 2004. "From the Invisible Handshake to the Invisible Hand? How Import Competition Changes the Employment Relationship," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(4), pages 723-766, October.

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