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International Welfare and Employment Linkages Arising from Minimum Wages

  • Hartmut Egger
  • Peter Egger
  • James R. Markusen

We formulate a two-country model with monopolistic competition and heterogeneous firms to reconsider labor market linkages in open economies. Labor-market imperfections arise by virtue of country-specific real minimum wages. Two principal experiments are considered. First, we show that trade liberalization under minimum wages differs significantly from trade liberalization under standard assumptions. In the former case, there is effectively a perfectly elastic supply of labor to production whereas in the conventional case it is assumed that aggregate labor supply is perfectly inelastic. Standard effects on marginal and average firm productivity are reversed in our model, yet there are significant gains from trade arising from employment expansion, an effect quite different from the source of gains from trade in the conventional approach. Second, we show that with firm heterogeneity an increase in one country's minimum wage triggers firm exit in both countries and thus harms workers at home and abroad. In an extension to our baseline model, we illustrate that offshoring production from the high-wage to the low-wage country within multinational firms lowers the scope for exporting the costs of a higher minimum wage to the trading partner.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15196.

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Date of creation: Jul 2009
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Publication status: published as Hartmut Egger & Peter Egger & James R. Markusen, 2012. "International Welfare And Employment Linkages Arising From Minimum Wages," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 53(3), pages 771-790, 08.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15196
Note: ITI
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  1. James R. Markusen, 2004. "Multinational Firms and the Theory of International Trade," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262633078, June.
  2. Eleonora Patacchini & Yves Zenou, 2007. "Spatial dependence in local unemployment rates," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(2), pages 169-191, March.
  3. Lommerud, Kjell Erik & Meland, Frode & Sørgard, Lars, 2001. "Unionized Oligopoly, Trade Liberalization and Location Choice," CEPR Discussion Papers 2990, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  7. Marc J. Melitz, 2003. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(6), pages 1695-1725, November.
  8. Andrei A. Levchenko & Quý Toà n Ão, 2006. "Trade, Inequality, and the Political Economy of Institutions," IMF Working Papers 06/56, International Monetary Fund.
  9. Helpman, Elhanan & Itskhoki, Oleg & Redding, Stephen J., 2009. "Inequality and Unemployment in a Global Economy," CEPR Discussion Papers 7353, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  12. Eckel, Carsten & Egger, Hartmut, 2009. "Wage bargaining and multinational firms," Munich Reprints in Economics 20528, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  13. Davis, Donald R. & Harrigan, James, 2011. "Good jobs, bad jobs, and trade liberalization," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 26-36, May.
  14. Markusen, James R, 1989. "Trade in Producer Services and in Other Specialized Intermediate Inputs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 85-95, March.
  15. Hartmut Egger & Udo Kreickemeier, 2007. "Firm Heterogeneity and the Labour Market Effects of Trade Liberalisation," CESifo Working Paper Series 2000, CESifo Group Munich.
  16. Brecher, Richard A, 1974. "Minimum Wage Rates and the Pure Theory of International Trade," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 88(1), pages 98-116, February.
  17. Ethier, Wilfred J, 1982. "National and International Returns to Scale in the Modern Theory of International Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(3), pages 389-405, June.
  18. Bernard, Andrew B. & Bradford Jensen, J., 1999. "Exceptional exporter performance: cause, effect, or both?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 1-25, February.
  19. Skaksen, Mette Yde & Sorensen, Jan Rose, 2001. "Should trade unions appreciate foreign direct investment," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 379-390, December.
  20. Richard Baldwin, 2005. "Heterogeneous Firms and Trade: Testable and Untestable Properties of the Melitz Model," NBER Working Papers 11471, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Davis, Donald R, 1998. "Does European Unemployment Prop Up American Wages? National Labor Markets and Global Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 478-94, June.
  22. Davidson, Carl & Matusz, Steven J. & Shevchenko, Andrei, 2008. "Globalization and firm level adjustment with imperfect labor markets," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 295-309, July.
  23. Jürgen Meckl, 2006. "Does European Unemployment Prop Up American Wages? National Labor Markets and Global Trade: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1924-1930, December.
  24. Stephen Nickell, 1997. "Unemployment and Labor Market Rigidities: Europe versus North America," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 55-74, Summer.
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