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Foreign Firms, Domestic Wages

  • Nikolaj Malchow-Møller
  • James R. Markusen
  • Bertel Schjerning

Many papers have documented a wage premium in foreign-owned and large firms. However, there is very little formal theory in the literature and empirical analyses are typically not based on hypotheses which are rigorously derived from theory. This paper contributes to the theory-empirics gap by developing a model that allows for two “pure” explanations for the wage premium. The first is a heterogenous-worker explanation along the lines of Yeaple (2005), where firms that select more scaleintensive technologies select ex-ante more productive workers. In this case, the wage premium is a pure selection phenomenon. The second explanation builds on the heterogeneous-firm model of Melitz (2003) combined with on-the-job learning as in Markusen (2001). Productivity differences between firms are internalized by ex-ante homogeneous workers, so the wage premium is a pure learning phenomenon due to ex-post higher productivity in foreign firms. Our model yields a number of precise empirical hypotheses. When these predictions are tested on Danish matched employer-employee data, we find that both explanations play a role in explaining the observed wage premium. Specifically, the foreign- and large-firm premiums explained by selection are in the neighborhood of 30-65% of the total premium, with the remainder consistent with learning. There is also considerable support for a number of other predictions specific to the worker-learning explanation.

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Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Scandinavian Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 115 (2013)
Issue (Month): 2 (04)
Pages: 292-325

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Handle: RePEc:bla:scandj:v:115:y:2013:i:2:p:292-325
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  1. Marc J. Melitz, 2003. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(6), pages 1695-1725, November.
  2. John M. Abowd & Francis Kramarz & David N. Margolis, 1994. "High Wage Workers and High Wage Firms," NBER Working Papers 4917, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Rachel Griffith & Helen Simpson, 2004. "Characteristics of Foreign-Owned Firms in British Manufacturing," NBER Chapters, in: Seeking a Premier Economy: The Economic Effects of British Economic Reforms, 1980-2000, pages 147-180 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Markusen, James R., 2001. "Contracts, intellectual property rights, and multinational investment in developing countries," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 189-204, February.
  5. Markusen, James R. & Trofimenko, Natalia, 2009. "Teaching locals new tricks: Foreign experts as a channel of knowledge transfers," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 120-131, January.
  6. Kenneth R. Troske & Kimberly Bayard, 1999. "Examining the Employer-Size Wage Premium in the Manufacturing, Retail Trade, and Service Industries Using Employer-Employee Matched Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 99-103, May.
  7. Holger Görg & Eric Strobl, 2004. "Spillovers from Foreign Firms through Worker Mobility: An Empirical Investigation," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 463, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  8. Jonathan E. Haskel & Sonia C. Pereira & Matthew J. Slaughter, 2007. "Does Inward Foreign Direct Investment Boost the Productivity of Domestic Firms?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(3), pages 482-496, August.
  9. Pedro S. Martins, 2004. "Do Foreign Firms Really Pay Higher Wages? : Evidence from Different Estimators," CRIEFF Discussion Papers 0409, Centre for Research into Industry, Enterprise, Finance and the Firm.
  10. David S. Evans & Linda S. Leighton, 1989. "Why Do Smaller Firms Pay Less?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 24(2), pages 299-318.
  11. Görg, Holger & Strobl, Eric & Walsh, Frank, 2002. "Why Do Foreign-Owned Firms Pay More? The Role of On-the-Job Training," IZA Discussion Papers 590, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Brown, Charles & Medoff, James, 1989. "The Employer Size-Wage Effect," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1027-59, October.
  13. Heyman, Fredrik & Sjöholm, Fredrik & Gustavsson Tingvall, Patrik, 2004. "Is There Really A Foreign Ownership Wage Premium?Evidence From Matched Employer-Employee Data," EIJS Working Paper Series 206, The European Institute of Japanese Studies.
  14. Brian Aitken & Ann Harrison & Robert E. Lipsey, 1995. "Wages and Foreign Ownership: A Comparative Study of Mexico, Venezuela and the United States," NBER Working Papers 5102, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Andrea Fosfuri & Massimo Motta & Thomas Ronde, 1998. "Foreign direct investments and spillovers through workers' mobility," Economics Working Papers 258, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  16. Elhanan Helpman & Marc J. Melitz & Stephen R. Yeaple, 2004. "Export Versus FDI with Heterogeneous Firms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 300-316, March.
  17. Idson, Todd L & Feaster, Daniel J, 1990. "A Selectivity Model of Employer-Size Wage Differentials," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(1), pages 99-122, January.
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  21. Mark E. Doms & J . Bradford Jensen, 1998. "Comparing Wages, Skills, and Productivity between Domestically and Foreign-Owned Manufacturing Establishments in the United States," NBER Chapters, in: Geography and Ownership as Bases for Economic Accounting, pages 235-258 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Girma, Sourafel & Gorg, Holger, 2007. "Evaluating the foreign ownership wage premium using a difference-in-differences matching approach," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 97-112, May.
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  29. repec:rus:hseeco:122439 is not listed on IDEAS
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