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Is There Really an Export Wage Premium? A Case Study of Los Angeles Using Matched Employee-Employer Data


  • Sébastien Breau
  • David L. Rigby


This paper investigates the effects of exporting on wages, specifically the claim that workers are paid higher wages if they are employed in manufacturing plants that export vis-à-vis plants that do not export. Past research on US plants has supported the existence of an export wage premium, though European studies dispute those results calling for more care in econometric investigation to control for worker characteristics. We answer this call developing a matched employee-employer data set linking worker characteristics from the one-in-six long form of the Decennial Household Census to manufacturing establishment data from the Longitudinal Research Database. Analysis focuses on 1990 and 2000 data for the Los Angeles Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area. Our results confirm that the average wage in manufacturing plants that export is greater than that in manufacturing plants that do not export. However, after controlling for worker characteristics such as age, gender, education, race and nationality, the export wage premium vanishes. That is, when comparing workers with similar characteristics, there is no wage difference between exporting and non-exporting plants. These results concord with recent findings from Europe and elsewhere.

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  • Sébastien Breau & David L. Rigby, 2006. "Is There Really an Export Wage Premium? A Case Study of Los Angeles Using Matched Employee-Employer Data," Working Papers 06-06, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:06-06

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. A. Isgut, 2001. "What's Different about Exporters? Evidence from Colombian Manufacturing," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(5), pages 57-82.
    2. Heyman, Fredrik & Sjoholm, Fredrik & Tingvall, Patrik Gustavsson, 2007. "Is there really a foreign ownership wage premium? Evidence from matched employer-employee data," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 355-376, November.
    3. Andrew Bernard & Joachim Wagner, 1997. "Exports and success in German manufacturing," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 133(1), pages 134-157, March.
    4. Kenneth R. Troske, 1998. "The Worker-Establishment Characteristics Database," NBER Chapters,in: Labor Statistics Measurement Issues, pages 371-404 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Chin Hee Hahn, 2004. "Exporting and Performance of Plants: Evidence from Korean Manufacturing," NBER Working Papers 10208, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. John Haltiwanger & Marilyn E. Manser & Robert Topel, 1998. "Labor Statistics Measurement Issues," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number halt98-1, January.
    7. Wagner, Joachim & Schnabel, Claus & Schank, Thorsten, 2004. "Exporting firms do not pay higher wages, ceteris paribus : First evidence from linked employer-employee data," Discussion Papers 27, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Chair of Labour and Regional Economics.
    8. John J. Abowd & John Haltiwanger & Julia Lane, 2004. "Integrated Longitudinal Employer-Employee Data for the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 224-229, May.
    9. Van Biesebroeck, Johannes, 2005. "Exporting raises productivity in sub-Saharan African manufacturing firms," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 373-391, December.
    10. David Greenaway & Richard Kneller, 2004. "Exporting and Productivity in the United Kingdom," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(3), pages 358-371, Autumn.
    11. Moulton, Brent R, 1990. "An Illustration of a Pitfall in Estimating the Effects of Aggregate Variables on Micro Unit," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(2), pages 334-338, May.
    12. Douglass C. North, 1955. "Location Theory and Regional Economic Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63, pages 243-243.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sébastien Breau & David L. Rigby, 2010. "International trade and wage inequality in Canada," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(1), pages 55-86, January.
    2. Vu, Van Huong, 2012. "Does export participation affect wages and employment quality? the case of Vietnamese SMEs," MPRA Paper 38696, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Rigby, D L & Breau, Sebastien, 2007. "Impacts of Trade on Wage Quality in Los Angeles: Analysis Using Matched Employer-Employee Data," Center for Global, International and Regional Studies, Working Paper Series qt0fh5z1hf, Center for Global, International and Regional Studies, UC Santa Cruz.
    4. World Bank, 2007. "Economic Performance in Latin America and the Caribbean : A Microeconomic Perspective," World Bank Other Operational Studies 7857, The World Bank.
    5. Antoni, Manfred & Janser, Markus & Lehmer, Florian, 2015. "The hidden winners of renewable energy promotion: Insights into sector-specific wage differentials," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 595-613.
    6. Max Nathan & Neil Lee, 2013. "Cultural Diversity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship: Firm-level Evidence from London," Economic Geography, Clark University, vol. 89(4), pages 367-394, October.
    7. Beatriz Muriel Hernández, 2016. "An Analysis of Firm Characteristics as Earnings Determinants: The Urban Bolivia Case," Development Research Working Paper Series 04/2016, Institute for Advanced Development Studies.
    8. Huong Vu & Steven Lim & Mark Holmes & Tinh Doan, 2013. "Firm Exporting and Employee Benefits: First Evidence from Vietnam Manufacturing SMEs," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 33(1), pages 519-535.
    9. Fu, Dahai & Wu, Yanrui, 2013. "Export wage premium in China's manufacturing sector: A firm level analysis," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(C), pages 182-196.
    10. David Rigby & Sebastien Breau, 2006. "Impacts of Trade on Wage Inequality in Los Angeles: Analysis Using Matched Employer-Employee Data," Working Papers 06-12, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    11. Pablo Fajnzylber & J. Luis Guasch & J. Humberto López, 2009. "Does the Investment Climate Matter? Microeconomic Foundations of Growth in Latin America," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6300.

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