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Offshoring, low-skilled immigration, and labor market polarization

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Abstract

During the last three decades, jobs in the middle of the skill distribution disappeared, and employment expanded for high- and low-skill occupations. Real wages did not follow the same pattern. Although earnings for the high-skill occupations increased robustly, wages for both low- and middle-skill workers remained subdued. We attribute this outcome to the rise in offshoring and low-skilled immigration, and we develop a three-country stochastic growth model to rationalize this outcome. In the model, the increase in offshoring negatively affects the middle-skill occupations but benefits the high-skill ones, which in turn boosts aggregate productivity. As the income of high-skill occupations rises, so does the demand for services provided by low-skill workers. However, low-skill wages remain depressed as a result of the surge in unskilled immigration. Native workers react to immigration by upgrading the skill content of their labor tasks as they invest in training.

Suggested Citation

  • Federico S. Mandelman & Andrei Zlate, 2014. "Offshoring, low-skilled immigration, and labor market polarization," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2014-28, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedawp:2014-28
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    Cited by:

    1. Zlate, Andrei, 2016. "Offshore production and business cycle dynamics with heterogeneous firms," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 34-49.
    2. Gaetano Basso, 2019. "The evolution of the occupational structure in Italy in the last decade," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 478, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    3. Mine Senses & Andrei Zlate & Christopher Kurz, 2017. "All Shook Up: International Trade and Firm-level Volatility," 2017 Meeting Papers 851, Society for Economic Dynamics.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    labor market polarization; task upgrading; offshoring; labor migration; heterogeneous agents; international business cycles;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
    • F41 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Open Economy Macroeconomics

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