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Skill-biased labor market reforms and international competitiveness


  • Schmerer, Hans-Jörg


This paper proposes a multi-industry trade model with integrated capital and goods markets. Labor market imperfections in line with Mortensen and Pissarides (Job Creation and Job Destruction in the Theory of Unemployment, 1994) give rise to unemployment and a channel for the government to influence markets through institutional changes. Labor market interventions feedback into the product market through changes in a country's competitiveness. Moreover, the distinction between high- and low-skill workers facilitates the analysis of skill-biased institutional changes that have stronger impact on certain skill groups. The comparative static exercise in this paper shows that high-skilled benefit from low-skill biased labor market reforms through higher wages. Lower labor costs reduce unemployment of the low-skilled and increases the reforming country's competitiveness. One-sided labor market interventions have feedback effects through adjustments at the extensive margin, which affect all workers at home and abroad irrespective of their level of skill. Governments in the non-reforming countries may react to this loss in competitiveness by initiating cooperative labor market reforms instead.

Suggested Citation

  • Schmerer, Hans-Jörg, 2012. "Skill-biased labor market reforms and international competitiveness," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 6, pages 1-39.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:ifweej:201237

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Schmerer, Hans-Jörg, 2014. "Foreign direct investment and search unemployment: Theory and evidence," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 41-56.
    2. Larch Mario & Lechthaler Wolfgang, 2011. "Comparative Advantage and Skill-Specific Unemployment," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 11(1), pages 1-58, April.
    3. Susana Iranzo & Fabiano Schivardi & Elisa Tosetti, 2008. "Skill Dispersion and Firm Productivity: An Analysis with Employer-Employee Matched Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(2), pages 247-285, April.
    4. Peter Egger & David Greenaway & Tobias Seidel, 2011. "Rigid labour markets with trade and capital mobility: theory and evidence," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 44(2), pages 509-540, May.
    5. Elhanan Helpman & Oleg Itskhoki, 2010. "Labour Market Rigidities, Trade and Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(3), pages 1100-1137.
    6. Gabriel J. Felbermayr & Mario Larch & Wolfgang Lechthaler, 2013. "Unemployment in an Interdependent World," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 262-301, February.
    7. Davidson, Carl & Matusz, Steven J. & Shevchenko, Andrei, 2008. "Outsourcing Peter To Pay Paul: High-Skill Expectations And Low-Skill Wages With Imperfect Labor Markets," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(04), pages 463-479, September.
    8. Felbermayr, Gabriel & Prat, Julien & Schmerer, Hans-Jörg, 2011. "Globalization and labor market outcomes: Wage bargaining, search frictions, and firm heterogeneity," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 146(1), pages 39-73, January.
    9. Mitra, Devashish & Ranjan, Priya, 2009. "Offshoring and Unemployment: The Role of Search Frictions and Labor Mobility," IZA Discussion Papers 4136, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. Elhanan Helpman & Oleg Itskhoki & Stephen Redding, 2010. "Inequality and Unemployment in a Global Economy," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(4), pages 1239-1283, July.
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    16. Christian Dustmann & Johannes Ludsteck & Uta Schönberg, 2009. "Revisiting the German Wage Structure," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(2), pages 843-881.
    17. Christopher A. Pissarides, 2000. "Equilibrium Unemployment Theory, 2nd Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262161877, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Johann Fuchs & Enzo Weber, 2013. "A new look at the discouragement and the added worker hypotheses: applying a trend--cycle decomposition to unemployment," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(15), pages 1374-1378, October.
    2. Werner, Daniel, 2013. "New insights into the development of regional unemployment disparities," IAB Discussion Paper 201311, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].
    3. Schmerer, Hans-Jörg, 2014. "Foreign direct investment and search unemployment: Theory and evidence," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 41-56.
    4. Sabine Klinger & Enzo Weber, 2016. "Decomposing Beveridge Curve Dynamics By Correlated Unobserved Components," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 78(6), pages 877-894, December.
    5. Michael Stops, 2014. "Job matching across occupational labour markets," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(4), pages 940-958.

    More about this item


    FDI; globalization; search unemployment; labor market institutions;

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
    • J6 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers


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