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Machines and machinists: Capital-Skill Complementarity from an International Trade Perspective


  • Miklos Koren

    () (Institute of Economics - Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Department of Economics of Central European University)

  • Marton Csillag

    () (TIER - University of Maastricht)


We estimate the effect of imported machines on the wages of machine operators utilizing Hungarian linked employer-employee data. We infer exposure to imported machines from detailed trade statistics of the firm and the occupation description of the worker. We find that workers exposed to imported machines earn about 8 percent higher wages than other machine operators at the same firm. When we proxy for unobserved worker characteristics, we find a significant 3 percent wage premium, suggesting that the relationship is causal. The return to schooling is also higher on imported machines. We build a simple matching model consistent with these findings. Our findings suggest that machine imports can be an important channel through which skill-biased technical change reaches less developed and emerging economies.

Suggested Citation

  • Miklos Koren & Marton Csillag, 2011. "Machines and machinists: Capital-Skill Complementarity from an International Trade Perspective," IEHAS Discussion Papers 1114, Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
  • Handle: RePEc:has:discpr:1114

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Kasahara, Hiroyuki & Liang, Yawen & Rodrigue, Joel, 2016. "Does importing intermediates increase the demand for skilled workers? Plant-level evidence from Indonesia," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 242-261.
    2. Nico Voigtlaender & Diego Saravia, 2013. "Imported Inputs, Quality Complementarity, and Skill Demand," 2013 Meeting Papers 699, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Juhn, Chinhui & Ujhelyi, Gergely & Villegas-Sanchez, Carolina, 2014. "Men, women, and machines: How trade impacts gender inequality," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 179-193.
    4. Lo Turco, Alessia & Maggioni, Daniela, 2013. "Does Trade Foster Employment Growth in Emerging Markets? Evidence from Turkey," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 1-18.
    5. repec:spr:weltar:v:154:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10290-017-0293-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Kézdi, Gábor & Mátyás, László & Balázsi, László & Divényi, János Károly, 2014. "A közgazdasági adatforradalom és a panelökonometria
      [The revolution in economic data and panel econometrics]
      ," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(11), pages 1319-1340.
    7. Békés, Gábor & Halpern, László & Muraközy, Balázs, 2013. "Külkereskedelem és a vállalatok közötti különbségek
      [Heterogeneous firms and foreign trade]
      ," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(1), pages 1-24.
    8. Francesco Di Comite & Antonella Nocco & Gianluca Orefice, 2014. "Tariff reductions, trade patterns and the wage gap in a monopolistic competition model with vertical linkages," Working Papers 2014-02, CEPII research center.

    More about this item


    imported machinery; capital-skill complementarity; wages;

    JEL classification:

    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions

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