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Imperfect Mobility of Labor across Sectors: a Reappraisal of the Balassa-Samuelson Effect

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  • Olivier CARDI

    () (Université Panthéon-Assas ERMES, Paris)

  • Romain RESTOUT

    () (Université de Lorraine BETA, Nancy, UCL IRES)

Abstract

This paper investigates the relative price and relative wage effects of a higher productivity in the traded sector compared with the non traded sector in a two-sector open economy model with imperfect substitutability in hours worked across sectors. The Balassa-Samuelson [1964] model predicts that a rise in the sectoral productivity ratio by 1% raises the relative price of non tradables by 1% while leaving unchanged the non traded wage-traded wage ratio. Applying cointegration methods to a panel of fourteen OECD countries over the period 1970-2007, our estimates show that the relative price rises by only 0.78% while the relative wage falls by 0.27%. Hence, our first set of empirical findings cast doubt on the quantitative predictions of the Balassa-Samuelson model. A second set of empirical findings highlights the role of imperfect labor mobility: interacting the ratio of sectoral labor share-adjusted total factor productivities with an index of labor mobility across sectors, we find that the relative price responds more to a productivity differential between tradables and non tradables while the reaction of the relative wage is more muted as the degree of labor mobility increases. We show that the ability of the two-sector model to account for our evidence quantitatively relies upon two ingredients: i) imperfect mobility of labor across sectors, and ii) physical capital accumulation. Finally, our numerical results are robust to the introduction of i) non-separability in preferences between consumption and labor, and ii) traded investment.

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  • Olivier CARDI & Romain RESTOUT, 2013. "Imperfect Mobility of Labor across Sectors: a Reappraisal of the Balassa-Samuelson Effect," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2013002, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
  • Handle: RePEc:ctl:louvir:2013002
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    Cited by:

    1. HALICIOGLU, Ferda & Ketenci, Natalya, 2017. "Testing the Productivity Bias Hypothesis in Middle East Countries," MPRA Paper 83528, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Menzies, Gordon & Xiao, Sylvia Xiaolin & Dixon, Peter & Peng, Xiujian & Rimmer, Maureen, 2016. "Rural-led exchange rate appreciation in China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, pages 15-30.
    3. repec:eee:jpolmo:v:39:y:2017:i:6:p:1019-1034 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Max Groneck & Christoph Kaufmann, 2014. "Relative Sectoral Prices and Population Ageing: A Common Trend," Working Paper Series in Economics 69, University of Cologne, Department of Economics.
    5. Takao Fujii & Yoichi Matsubayashi, 2016. "The Balassa-Samuelson Effect and the Labor Market in Japan F1977-2008," Discussion Papers 1626, Graduate School of Economics, Kobe University.

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    Keywords

    Relative price of non tradables; Sectoral wages; Productivity growth; Sectoral labor reallocation; Investment;

    JEL classification:

    • E22 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity
    • F11 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Neoclassical Models of Trade
    • F41 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Open Economy Macroeconomics
    • F43 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Economic Growth of Open Economies

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