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Impact of Chinese growth and trade on labor in developed countries

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  • Mirza, Tasneem
  • Narayanan, Badri
  • van Leeuwen, Nico

Abstract

This paper examines the impacts of growth in China's economy and trade on the skill premium of labor in developed countries. We utilize a unique global dataset that disaggregates workers by occupations to identify impacts across labor categories with different skill sets, complementing the widely used GTAP Data Base in the CGE framework offered by the GTAP model. To study the impacts of China's fast-paced growth, we model the counterfactual, i.e., what if China grew and opened at a more modest rate; we then compare this baseline with China's actual growth. Results indicate that a strong rise in manufacturing exports from China to the US impacts output and employment in the US. The US shifts its production away from light manufacturing sectors to more service-oriented sectors that also tend to engage higher skilled labor. There is a small decrease in the real wages of unskilled labor and a rise in the real wages of skilled labor. Interestingly, not all categories of unskilled labor lose, rather those that are more directly linked with manufacturing sectors are impacted; unskilled ‘service and shop workers’ and the unskilled ‘agricultural workers, machine operators, assemblers, craft workers, and others’ observe a small decline in real wages, while the impact on unskilled ‘clerks’ is insignificant. For all categories of skilled workers, there is an increase in real wages primarily driven by the shift in production to services and high-skilled labor intensive categories, resulting in the rising skill premium. Hence disaggregating the labor data provides greater depth on the understanding of the differential impacts on domestic workers resulting from trade, and thereby guides policy on how these differential impacts can be smoothed through redistribution of benefits. Consistent with other study findings, there is a positive impact on overall growth and welfare in the US, EU and Australasia.

Suggested Citation

  • Mirza, Tasneem & Narayanan, Badri & van Leeuwen, Nico, 2014. "Impact of Chinese growth and trade on labor in developed countries," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 522-532.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecmode:v:38:y:2014:i:c:p:522-532
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econmod.2014.01.029
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    1. Beissinger, Thomas & Chusseau, Nathalie & Hellier, Joël, 2016. "Offshoring and labour market reforms in Germany: Assessment and policy implications," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 314-333.

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