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A Sorted Tale of Globalization: White Collar Jobs and the Rise of Service Offshoring

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  • Runjuan Liu
  • Daniel Trefler

Abstract

We study how the rise of trade in services with China and India has impacted U.S. labour markets. The topic has two understudied aspects: it deals with service trade (most studies deal with manufacturing trade) and it examines the historical first of U.S. workers competing with educated but low-wage foreign workers. Our empirical agenda is made complicated by the endogeneity of service imports and the endogenous sorting of workers across occupations. To develop an estimation framework that deals with these, we imbed a partial equilibrium model of 'trade in tasks' within a general equilibrium model of occupational choice. The model highlights the need to estimate labour market outcomes using changes in the outcomes of individual workers and, in particular, to distinguish workers who switch 'up' from those who switch 'down'. (Switching 'down' means switching to an occupation that pays less on average than the current occupation). We apply these insights to matched CPS data for 1996-2007. The cumulative 10-year impact of rising service imports from China and India has been as follows. (1) Downward and upward occupational switching increased by 17% and 4%, respectively. (2) Transitions to unemployment increased by a large 0.9 percentage points. (3) The earnings of occupational 'stayers' fell by a tiny 2.3%. (4) The earnings impact for occupational switchers is not identified without an assumption about worker sorting. Under the assumption of no worker sorting, downward (upward) switching was associated with an earning change of -13.9% (+12.1%). Under the assumption of worker sorting, there is no statistically significant impact on earnings.

Suggested Citation

  • Runjuan Liu & Daniel Trefler, 2011. "A Sorted Tale of Globalization: White Collar Jobs and the Rise of Service Offshoring," NBER Working Papers 17559, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17559
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Ejaz Ghani & William R. Kerr & Christopher Stanton, 2014. "Diasporas and Outsourcing: Evidence from oDesk and India," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 60(7), pages 1677-1697, July.
    2. Davidson, Carl & Heyman, Fredrik & Matusz, Steven & Sjöholm, Fredrik & Zhu, Susan Chun, 2014. "Globalization and imperfect labor market sorting," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(2), pages 177-194.
    3. Basco, Sergi & Mestieri, Martí, 2013. "Heterogeneous trade costs and wage inequality: A model of two globalizations," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2), pages 393-406.
    4. Marc J. Melitz & Daniel Trefler, 2012. "Gains from Trade When Firms Matter," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 26(2), pages 91-118, Spring.
    5. repec:pal:easeco:v:44:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1057_s41302-016-0080-z is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Tempesti, Tommaso, 2015. "Fringe Benefits and Import Competition," MPRA Paper 69842, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Hummels, David & Munch, Jakob R. & Xiang, Chong, 2016. "Offshoring and Labor Markets," IZA Discussion Papers 9741, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Larry D. Qiu & Chaoqun Zhan, 2016. "Special Section: China's Growing Trade and its Role to the World Economy," Pacific Economic Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(1), pages 45-71, February.
    9. Semih Akcomak & Henri de Groot & Stefan Groot, 2013. "The impact of trade, offshoring and multinationals on job loss and job finding," CPB Discussion Paper 252, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
    10. Sethupathy, Guru, 2013. "Offshoring, wages, and employment: Theory and evidence," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 73-97.
    11. Davidson, Carl & Heyman, Fredrik & Matusz, Steven & Sjöholm, Fredrik & Zhu, Susan Chun, 2017. "Global engagement and the occupational structure of firms," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 273-292.
    12. Chong Xiang & Stephen Yeaple, 2018. "The Production of Cognitive and Non-cognitive Human Capital in the Global Economy," NBER Working Papers 24524, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Tobal Martín, 2015. "A Model of Wage and Employment Effects of Service Offshoring," Working Papers 2015-10, Banco de México.
    14. Artuç, Erhan & McLaren, John, 2015. "Trade policy and wage inequality: A structural analysis with occupational and sectoral mobility," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 278-294.
    15. Hongshik Lee & Joonhyung Lee, 2015. "The impact of offshoring on temporary workers: evidence on wages from South Korea," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 151(3), pages 555-587, August.
    16. Jonathan Haskel & Robert Z. Lawrence & Edward E. Leamer & Matthew J. Slaughter, 2012. "Globalization and U.S. Wages: Modifying Classic Theory to Explain Recent Facts," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 26(2), pages 119-140, Spring.
    17. Chiquiar Daniel & Tobal Martín & Yslas Renato, 2016. "Measuring and Understanding Trade in Service Tasks," Working Papers 2016-05, Banco de México.
    18. Avraham Ebenstein & Ann Harrison & Margaret McMillan, 2015. "Why are American Workers getting Poorer? China, Trade and Offshoring," NBER Working Papers 21027, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    JEL classification:

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

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