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Are Imports from Rich Nations Deskilling Emerging Economies? - Human Capital and the Dynamic Effects of Trade

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  • Raphael Anton Auer

Abstract

This paper starts by documenting that during the last decades, the human capital embodied in imports from skill abundant nations has noticeably reduced skill accumulation in the less developed world. To identify the causal relation between these variables, the analysis utilizes over-time variation in the supply of skilled labor and the extent to which this variation affects the skill content of trade given the bilateral distance between im- and exporter. In a panel estimation covering 41 non-OCED members, a one standard deviation higher geographic pressure to import human capital is associated with a 12% reduction in the national average length of schooling. The paper next develops a model to analyze the income and welfare consequences of such trade-induced human capital disaccumulation. The model is based on heterogeneous workers who make educational decisions in the presence of complete markets. When heterogeneous workers invest in schooling, high type agents earn a surplus from their investment. Trade shifts this surplus to rich countries that can use skills more efficiently. Consequently, the dynamic effects of liberalization tend to occur to initially rich countries, thus leading to divergence.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Swiss National Bank in its series Working Papers with number 2010-18.

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Length: 51 pages
Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:snb:snbwpa:2010-18

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Keywords: Factor Content of Trade; Employment; Human Capital; Economic Growth;

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References

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  1. Elhanan Helpman & Marc Melitz & Yona Rubinstein, 2008. "Estimating Trade Flows: Trading Partners and Trading Volumes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(2), pages 441-487, 05.
  2. Elhanan Helpman & Oleg Itshoki & Stephen Redding, 2009. "Inequality and unemployment in a global economy," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 25501, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  3. Joao Santos Silva & Silvana Tenreyro, 2005. "The Log of Gravity," CEP Discussion Papers dp0701, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  4. Rodrik, Dani & Subramanian, Arvind & Trebbi, Francesco, 2002. "Institutions Rule: The Primacy of Institutions Over Geography and Integration in Economic Development," CEPR Discussion Papers 3643, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Elhanan Helpman & Oleg Itskhoki, 2010. "Labour Market Rigidities, Trade and Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(3), pages 1100-1137.
  6. Yong-Seok Choi & Pravin Krishna, 2004. "The Factor Content of Bilateral Trade: An Empirical Test," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(4), pages 887-914, August.
  7. Elhanan Helpman & Oleg Itskhoki & Stephen Redding, 2010. "Unequal Effects of Trade on Workers with Different Abilities," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(2-3), pages 421-433, 04-05.
  8. Auer, Raphael & Fischer, Andreas M., 2010. "The effect of low-wage import competition on U.S. inflationary pressure," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(4), pages 491-503, May.
  9. Robert C. Feenstra & Robert E. Lipsey & Harry P. Bowen, 1997. "World Trade Flows, 1970-1992, with Production and Tariff Data," NBER Working Papers 5910, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Shahid Yusuf & Kaoru Nabeshima, 2012. "Some Small Countries Do It Better : Rapid Growth and Its Causes in Singapore, Finland, and Ireland," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2243, October.

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