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Import competition from and outsourcing to China: a curse or blessing for firms?

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  • Mion, Giordano
  • Zhu, Linke

Abstract

We use Belgian manufacturing firm-level data over the period 1996-2007 to analyze the impact of imports from different origins on firm growth, exit, and skill upgrading. For this purpose we use both industry-level and firm-level imports by country of origin and distinguish between firm-level outsourcing of final versus intermediate goods. Results indicate that China is different from both other low-wage and OECD countries. Industry-level import competition and firm-level outsourcing to China reduce firm employment growth and induce skill upgrading. In contrast, industry-level imports have no effect on Belgian firm survival, while firm-level outsourcing of finished goods to China even increased firm's probability of survival. In terms of skill upgrading, the effect of Chinese imports is large. Import competition from China accounts for 42% (20%) of the within firm increase in the share of skilled workers (non-production workers) in Belgian manufacturing over the period of our analysis, but these effects, as well as the employment reducing effect, remain mainly in low-tech industries. Firm-level outsourcing to China further accounts for a small but significant increase in the share of non-production workers. This change in employment structure is in line with predictions of recent model of trade-induced technological change and offshoring.

Suggested Citation

  • Mion, Giordano & Zhu, Linke, 2011. "Import competition from and outsourcing to China: a curse or blessing for firms?," CEPR Discussion Papers 8188, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8188
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    Cited by:

    1. Julien MARTIN & Florian MAYNERIS, 2013. "High-End Variety Exporters Defying Distance: Micro Facts and Macroeconomic Implications," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2013027, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    2. Tiago Pereira, 2016. "The effect of developing countries' competition on regional labour markets in Portugal," GEE Papers 0058, Gabinete de Estratégia e Estudos, Ministério da Economia, revised Mar 2016.
    3. Martin, Julien & Mejean, Isabelle, 2014. "Low-wage country competition and the quality content of high-wage country exports," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(1), pages 140-152.
    4. Franco Amatori & Matteo Bugamelli & Andrea Colli, 2011. "Italian Firms in History: Size, Technology and Entrepreneurship," Quaderni di storia economica (Economic History Working Papers) 13, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    5. Julien Martin & Isabelle Méjean, 2011. "Low-wage countries' competition, reallocation across firms and the quality content of exports," PSE - G-MOND WORKING PAPERS halshs-00962485, HAL.
    6. Martin, Julien & Mayneris, Florian, 2015. "High-end variety exporters defying gravity: Micro facts and aggregate implications," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(1), pages 55-71.
    7. Matteo Bugamelli & Silvia Fabiani & Enrico Sette, 2015. "The Age of the Dragon: The Effect of Imports from China on Firm‐Level Prices," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 47(6), pages 1091-1118, September.
    8. E. Dhyne & L. Dresse & C. Fuss & Ch. Piette, 2011. "Behaviour of Belgian firms in the context of globalisation : lessons from the conference on “International Trade : Threats and Opportunities in a Globalised World”," Economic Review, National Bank of Belgium, issue i, pages 73-88, June.
    9. Kristian Behrens & Brahim Boualam & Julien Martin, 2016. "The resilience of the Canadian textile industries and clusters to shocks, 2001-2013," CIRANO Project Reports 2016rp-05, CIRANO.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    China; import competition; outsourcing; skill upgrading; technological change;

    JEL classification:

    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance

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