International Trade and the Skill Structure of Wages and Employment in West Germany
Building on a Heckscher-Ohlin-Samuelson framework with factor price rigidities, this paper provides an empirical analysis of the relationship between trade, technical progress, and the labor market in West Germany for the period from 1970 until 1990. The analysis builds on relative product prices as the major transmission channel of trade effects on the labor market and allows for three skill types of labor. The major findings are that, relative to skilled labor, wages were increasing disproportionately both for low- and high-skilled labor whereas employment trends were favoring higher skill levels monotonically. Import competition as well as total factor productivity were increasing disproportionately in those industries using low- or high-skilled labor intensively. These results are consistent with trade effects dominating for low-skilled labor and technology effects for high-skilled labor while wage bargaining institutions were holding up relative wages of low-skilled labor. The combined effect accounts for the disproportionate increase of unemployment for low-skilled workers.
Volume (Year): 219 (1999)
Issue (Month): 1+2 (July)
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