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Productivity Measurement And The Impact Of Trade And Technology On Wages: Estimates For The U.S., 1972-1990

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  • Robert C. Feenstra
  • Gordon H. Hanson

Abstract

We develop an empirical framework to assess the importance of trade and technical change on the wages of production and nonproduction workers. Trade is measured by the foreign outsourcing of intermediate inputs, while technical change is measured by the shift towards high-technology capital such as computers. In our benchmark specification, we find that both foreign outsourcing and expenditures of high-technology equipment can explain a substantial amount of the increase in the wages of nonproduction (high-skilled) relative to production (low-skilled) workers that occurred during the 1980s. Surprisingly, it is expenditures on high-technology capital other than computers that are important. These results are very sensitive, however, to our benchmark assumption that industry prices are independent of productivity. When we allow for the endogeneity of industry prices, then expenditures on computers becomes the most important cause of the increased wage inequality, and have a 50% greater impact than does foreign outsourcing.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert C. Feenstra & Gordon H. Hanson, "undated". "Productivity Measurement And The Impact Of Trade And Technology On Wages: Estimates For The U.S., 1972-1990," Department of Economics 97-17, California Davis - Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:fth:caldec:97-17
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    1. Berndt, Ernst R. & Morrison, Catherine J., 1995. "High-tech capital formation and economic performance in U.S. manufacturing industries An exploratory analysis," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 9-43, January.
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    4. R. E. Baldwin & G. G. Cain, "undated". "Shifts in U.S. Relative Wages: The Role of Trade, Technology, and Factor Endowments," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1132-97, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
    5. Ernst R. Berndt & Catherine J. Morrison & Larry S. Rosenblum, 1992. "High-Tech Capital Formation and Labor Composition in U.S. Manufacturing Industries: An Exploratory Analysis," NBER Working Papers 4010, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    1. repec:eee:labchp:v:3:y:1999:i:pb:p:2215-2288 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Guillaume Daudin & Christine Rifflart & Danielle Schweisguth, 2011. "Who produces for whom in the world economy?," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 44(4), pages 1403-1437, November.
    3. Yuntong Wang & Xiaopeng Yin, 2016. "Technology Transfer, Welfare, and Wage Inequality," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(2), pages 611-623, May.
    4. World Bank, 2004. "Inequality and Economic Development in Brazil," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 14913.
    5. Ilham Haouas & Mahmoud Yagoubib, 2007. "The effect of international trade on labour-demand elasticities: empirical evidence from Tunisia," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(4), pages 277-286.
    6. Bournakis, Ioannis & Vecchi, Michela & Venturini, Francesco, 2015. "Off-shoring, specialization and R&D," MPRA Paper 68382, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. De Santis, Roberto A., 1999. "Intra-industry trade, endogenous technological change, wage inequality and welfare," Kiel Working Papers 921, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    8. Robert C. Feenstra, 1998. "Integration of Trade and Disintegration of Production in the Global Economy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 31-50, Fall.
    9. Shalah M. Mostashari, 2011. "Vertical specialization, intermediate tariffs, and the pattern of trade: assessing the role of tariff liberalization to U.S. bilateral trade 1989-2001," Globalization and Monetary Policy Institute Working Paper 71, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
    10. Picciolo, Francesco & Papandreou, Andreas & Hubacek, Klaus & Ruzzenenti, Franco, 2017. "How crude oil prices shape the global division of labor," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 189(C), pages 753-761.
    11. Bernard Hoekman & Alan L. Winters, 2005. "Trade and Employment: Stylized Facts and Research Findings," Working Papers 7, United Nations, Department of Economics and Social Affairs.
    12. Shandre M. Thangvelu, . "Trade, Technology, Foreign Firms and Wage Gap: Case of Vietnam Manufacturing Firms," Chapters, Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA).
    13. Dumont, Michel, 2004. "The Impact of International Trade with Newly Industrialised Countries on the Wages and Employment of Low-Skilled and High-Skilled Workers in the European Union," MPRA Paper 83525, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    14. Aekapol Chongvilaivan, 2012. "Learning by exporting and high-tech capital deepening in Singapore manufacturing industries, 1974--2006," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(20), pages 2551-2568, July.
    15. Johannes Fedderke & Yongcheol Shin & Prabhat Vaze, 2003. "Trade, Technology and Wage Inequality in the South African Manufacturing Sectors," ESE Discussion Papers 106, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
    16. Nicita, Alessandro, 2004. "Who benefited from trade liberalization in Mexico? Measuring the effects on household welfare," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3265, The World Bank.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General

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