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What drives short-run labor market volatility in offshoring industries ? evidence from northern Mexico during 2007-2009

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Author Info

  • Kaplan, David S.
  • Lederman, Daniel
  • Robertson, Raymond

Abstract

Recent research shows that employment in Mexico's offshoring maquiladora industries is twice as volatile as employment in their U.S. industry counterparts. The analyses in this paper use data from Mexico's social security records and U.S. customs between the first quarter of 2007 and the last quarter of 2009 to identify four channels through which economic shocks emanating from the United States were amplified when transmitted into Mexico's offshoring labor market of Northern Mexico. First, employment and imports within industries are complements, which is consistent with imports being used as inputs for the assembly of exportable goods within industries. That is, when imports fell during the crisis, employment in Mexico was reduced rather than protected by the fall of imports. Second, contrary to other studies, employment is more responsive than wages to trade shocks. Third, fluctuations in Mexico-U.S. trade were associated with changes in the composition of employment, with the skill level of workers rising during downturns and falling during upswings. This implies that the correlation between average wages and trade shocks is partly driven by labor-force compositional effects, which may obscure individual-worker wage flexibility. Fourth, trade shocks affecting related industries (industries linked by employment flows affect employment at least as much as own-industry trade shocks, thus amplifying employment volatility through the propagation of shocks across industries within Northern Mexico. Furthermore, the data suggest that the observed fluctuations in U.S.-Mexico trade at the onset of the Great Recession in the U.S. were not associated with pre-existing employment trends in Northern Mexico.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 6268.

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Date of creation: 01 Nov 2012
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6268

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Keywords: Labor Markets; Labor Policies; Trade Policy; Economic Theory&Research; Free Trade;

References

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  1. 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.
  2. Andrew B. Bernard & Raymond Robertson & Peter K. Schott, 2010. "Is Mexico a Lumpy Country?," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(5), pages 937-950, November.
  3. David Hummels & Rasmus J?rgensen & Jakob Munch & Chong Xiang, 2014. "The Wage Effects of Offshoring: Evidence from Danish Matched Worker-Firm Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(6), pages 1597-1629, June.
  4. Felbermayr, Gabriel & Prat, Julien & Schmerer, Hans-Jörg, 2008. "Globalization and Labor Market Outcomes: Wage Bargaining, Search Frictions, and Firm Heterogeneity," IZA Discussion Papers 3363, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  7. Amiti, Mary & Konings, Jozef, 2005. "Trade Liberalization, Intermediate Inputs and Productivity: Evidence from Indonesia," CEPR Discussion Papers 5104, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Stijn Claessens & Hui Tong & Shang-Jin Wei, 2011. "From the Financial Crisis to the Real Economy: Using Firm-level Data to Identify Transmission Channels," NBER Working Papers 17360, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Elhanan Helpman, 2010. "Labor Market Frictions as a Source of Comparative Advantage, with Implications for Unemployment and Inequality," NBER Working Papers 15764, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Sam Kortum & John Romalis & Brent Neiman & Jonathan Eaton, 2010. "Trade and the Global Recession," 2010 Meeting Papers 1340, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  11. Stephen Cameron & Shubham Chaudhuri & John McLaren, 2007. "Trade Shocks and Labor Adjustment: Theory," NBER Working Papers 13463, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. J. David Richardson, 1995. "Income Inequality and Trade: How to Think, What to Conclude," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 33-55, Summer.
  13. Ebenstein, Avraham & Harrison, Ann & McMillan, Margaret & Phillips, Shannon, 2011. "Estimating the impact of trade and offshoring on American workers using the current population surveys," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5750, The World Bank.
  14. Berg, G. van den & Gautier, P.A. & Ours, J.C. van & Ridder, G., 1998. "Worker turnover at the firm level and crowding out of lower educated workers," Discussion Paper 98.104, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  15. Robert C. Feenstra, 2010. "Offshoring in the Global Economy: Microeconomic Structure and Macroeconomic Implications," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262013835, December.
  16. Paul R. Bergin & Robert C. Feenstra & Gordon H. Hanson, 2009. "Offshoring and Volatility: Evidence from Mexico's Maquiladora Industry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1664-71, September.
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