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Trade and unemployment: What do the data say?

  • Felbermayr, Gabriel
  • Prat, Julien
  • Schmerer, Hans-Jörg

This paper documents a robust empirical regularity: in the long-run, higher trade openness is associated with a lower structural rate of unemployment. We establish this fact using: (i) panel data from 20 OECD countries, (ii) cross-sectional data on a larger set of countries. The time structure of the panel data allows us to control for unobserved heterogeneity, whereas cross-sectional data make it possible to instrument openness by its geographical component. In both setups, we purge the data of business cycle effects, include a host of institutional and geographical variables, and control for within-country trade. Our main finding is robust to various definitions of unemployment rates and openness measures. Our benchmark specification suggests that a 10 percentage point increase in total trade openness reduces aggregate unemployment by about three quarters of one percentage point.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal European Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 55 (2011)
Issue (Month): 6 (August)
Pages: 741-758

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Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:55:y:2011:i:6:p:741-758
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