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Unemployment of Skilled and Unskilled Labor in an Open Economy: International Trade, Migration, and Outsourcing

We show how international trade, migration and outsourcing affect unemployment of skilled and unskilled labor, in a framework that integrates the Heckscher-Ohlin model of trade with the Shapiro-Stiglitz model of unemployment. Our approach allows us to analyze changes in not only aggregate unemployment, but also the distribution of unemployment between skilled and unskilled labor. As the analysis demonstrates, the unemployment rates of these two types of labor often move in opposite directions, thereby dampening the change in aggregate unemployment. Results depend on the source of comparative advantage, based on international differences in (for example) unemployment insurance or production technology.

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Paper provided by Carleton University, Department of Economics in its series Carleton Economic Papers with number 08-07.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2008
Date of revision: Nov 2010
Publication status: Published: Revised version in Review of International Economics, Vol. 18, No. 5 (November 2010), pp. 990-1000
Handle: RePEc:car:carecp:08-07
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  1. 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.
  2. Jagdish Bhagwati & Arvind Panagariya, 2004. "The Muddles over Outsourcing," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(4), pages 93-114, Fall.
  3. Nickell, Stephen & Bell, Brian, 1995. "The Collapse in Demand for the Unskilled and Unemployment across the OECD," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(1), pages 40-62, Spring.
  4. Kimball, Miles S, 1994. "Labor-Market Dynamics When Unemployment is a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 1045-59, September.
  5. Krugman, Paul R, 1993. "What Do Undergrads Need to Know about Trade?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 23-26, May.
  6. Devashish Mitra & Priya Ranjan, 2007. "Offshoring and Unemployment," Working Papers 060719, University of California-Irvine, Department of Economics.
  7. Richard A. Brecher & Zhiqi Chen & Ehsan Choudhri, 2007. "Optimal Taxation in a Dynamic Model of Shirking and Unemployment: Shapiro and Stiglitz Meet Chamley," Carleton Economic Papers 07-07, Carleton University, Department of Economics, revised Aug 2010.
  8. Brecher, Richard A., 1992. "An efficiency-wage model with explicit monitoring : Unemployment and welfare in an open economy," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1-2), pages 179-191, February.
  9. Adrian Wood, 1995. "How Trade Hurt Unskilled Workers," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 57-80, Summer.
  10. Brecher, Richard A., 1974. "Optimal commercial policy for a minimum-wage economy," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 139-149, May.
  11. R.A. Brecher & Z. Chen & E.U. Choudhri, 2000. "Unemployment and Growth in the Long Run: An Efficiency-Wage Model with Optimal Savings," Carleton Economic Papers 00-01, Carleton University, Department of Economics, revised Sep 2002.
  12. Brecher, Richard A & Choudhri, Ehsan U, 1982. "Immiserizing Investment from Abroad: The Singer-Prebisch Thesis Reconsidered," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(1), pages 181-90, February.
  13. Davis, Donald R, 1998. "Does European Unemployment Prop Up American Wages? National Labor Markets and Global Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 478-94, June.
  14. Wood Júnior, Thomaz, 1995. "Workers," RAE - Revista de Administração de Empresas, FGV-EAESP Escola de Administração de Empresas de São Paulo (Brazil), vol. 35(2), January.
  15. Brecher, Richard A. & Choudhri, Ehsan U., 1987. "International migration versus foreign investment in the presence of unemployment," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3-4), pages 329-342, November.
  16. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
  17. Copeland, Brian R., 1989. "Efficiency wages in a Ricardian model of international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(3-4), pages 221-244, November.
  18. Ronald W. Jones, 1965. "The Structure of Simple General Equilibrium Models," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 73, pages 557.
  19. Mussa, Michael, 1993. "Making the Practical Case for Freer Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 372-76, May.
  20. Brecher, Richard A, 1974. "Minimum Wage Rates and the Pure Theory of International Trade," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 88(1), pages 98-116, February.
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