IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/17604.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Skill Biased Heterogeneous Firms, Trade Liberalization, and the Skill Premium

Author

Listed:
  • James Harrigan
  • Ariell Reshef

Abstract

We propose a theory that rising globalization and rising wage inequality are related because trade liberalization raises the demand facing highly competitive skill-intensive firms. In our model, only the lowest-cost firms participate in the global economy exactly along the lines of Melitz (2003). In addition to differing in their productivity, firms differ in their skill intensity. We model skill-biased technology as a correlation between skill intensity and technological acumen, and we estimate this correlation to be large using firm-level data from Chile in 1995. A fall in trade costs leads to both greater trade volumes and an increase in the relative demand for skill, as the lowest-cost/most-skilled firms expand to serve the export market while less skill-intensive non-exporters retrench in the face of increased import competition. This mechanism works regardless of factor endowment differences, so we provide an explanation for why globalization and wage inequality move together in both skill-abundant and skill-scarce countries. In our model countries are net exporters of the services of their abundant factor, but there are no Stolper- Samuelson effects because import competition affects all domestic firms equally.

Suggested Citation

  • James Harrigan & Ariell Reshef, 2011. "Skill Biased Heterogeneous Firms, Trade Liberalization, and the Skill Premium," NBER Working Papers 17604, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17604
    Note: ITI LS
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w17604.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Eric A. Verhoogen, 2008. "Trade, Quality Upgrading, and Wage Inequality in the Mexican Manufacturing Sector," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(2), pages 489-530.
    2. Richard Baldwin & James Harrigan, 2011. "Zeros, Quality, and Space: Trade Theory and Trade Evidence," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 60-88, May.
    3. David H. Autor & Frank Levy & Richard J. Murnane, 2003. "The skill content of recent technological change: an empirical exploration," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
    4. Gonzague Vannoorenberghe, 2011. "Trade between symmetric countries, heterogeneous firms, and the skill premium," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 44(1), pages 148-170, February.
    5. Steven Stern, 1997. "Simulation-Based Estimation," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(4), pages 2006-2039, December.
    6. Bernard, Andrew B. & Jensen, J. Bradford, 1997. "Exporters, skill upgrading, and the wage gap," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1-2), pages 3-31, February.
    7. Chong Xiang, 2005. "New Goods and the Relative Demand for Skilled Labor," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 285-298, May.
    8. John Romalis, 2004. "Factor Proportions and the Structure of Commodity Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 67-97, March.
    9. Nikolay Nenovsky & S. Statev, 2006. "Introduction," Post-Print halshs-00260898, HAL.
    10. Maurice Kugler & Eric Verhoogen, 2012. "Prices, Plant Size, and Product Quality," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(1), pages 307-339.
    11. 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.
    12. Ariel Burstein & Jonathan Vogel, 2010. "Globalization, Technology, and the Skill Premium: A Quantitative Analysis," NBER Working Papers 16459, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Directed Technical Change," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(4), pages 781-809.
    14. 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.
    15. repec:sae:ecolab:v:16:y:2006:i:2:p:1-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2008. "Trends in U.S. Wage Inequality: Revising the Revisionists," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(2), pages 300-323, May.
    17. Paula Bustos, 2005. "The impact of trade liberalization on skill upgrading. Evidence from Argentina," Economics Working Papers 1189, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Jul 2011.
    18. Zhu, Susan Chun & Trefler, Daniel, 2005. "Trade and inequality in developing countries: a general equilibrium analysis," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 21-48, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Crozet, Matthieu & Trionfetti, Federico, 2013. "Firm-level comparative advantage," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(2), pages 321-328.
    2. Elhanan Helpman, 2016. "Globalization and Wage Inequality," NBER Working Papers 22944, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Julian Emami Namini & Ricardo A. López, 2013. "Factor price overshooting with trade liberalization: theory and evidence," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 60(2), pages 139-181, May.
    4. Neary, J. Peter & Tharakan, Joe, 2012. "International trade with endogenous mode of competition in general equilibrium," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(1), pages 118-132.
    5. Silvio Contessi & Francesca de Nicola & Li Li, 2014. "International trade, female labor and entrepreneurship in MENA countries," Chapters,in: The Economic and Political Aftermath of the Arab Spring, chapter 4, pages 106-140 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    6. Emami Namini, Julian & Facchini, Giovanni & López, Ricardo A., 2013. "Export growth and firm survival," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 120(3), pages 481-486.
    7. Bernard, Andrew B. & Jensen, J Bradford & Redding, Stephen J. & Schott, Peter K., 2016. "Global Firms," CEPR Discussion Papers 11555, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Etzel, Daniel & Hauptmann, Andreas & Schmerer, Hans-Jörg, 2013. "Dissecting the German export miracle: Plant-level evidence," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 387-403.
    9. Goedhuys, Micheline & Sleuwaegen, Leo, 2016. "International standards certification, institutional voids and exports from developing country firms," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(6), pages 1344-1355.
    10. repec:bla:rdevec:v:21:y:2017:i:4:p:e1-e29 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Melitz, Marc J. & Redding, Stephen J., 2014. "Heterogeneous Firms and Trade," Handbook of International Economics, Elsevier.
    12. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Stephen J. Redding & Peter K. Schott, 2012. "The Empirics of Firm Heterogeneity and International Trade," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 4(1), pages 283-313, July.
    13. Michael Koch, 2016. "Skills, Tasks and the Scarcity of Talent in a Global Economy," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 24(3), pages 536-563, August.
    14. repec:spr:weltar:v:154:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10290-017-0293-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Ahsan, Reshad N. & Mitra, Devashish, 2014. "Trade liberalization and labor's slice of the pie: Evidence from Indian firms," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 1-16.
    16. Egger, Hartmut & Egger, Peter & Kreickemeier, Udo & Moser, Christoph, 2017. "The exporter wage premium when firms and workers are heterogeneous," CEPIE Working Papers 12/17, Technische Universität Dresden, Center of Public and International Economics (CEPIE).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F1 - International Economics - - Trade
    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17604. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: () or (Joanne Lustig). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.