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Trade and Tasks: An Exploration over Three Decades in Germany

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  • Sascha O. Becker
  • Marc-Andreas Muendler

Abstract

This paper combines representative worker-level data that cover time-varying job-level task characteristics of an economy over a long time span with sector-level bilateral trade data for merchandize and services. We carefully create longitudinally consistent workplace characteristics from the German Qualification and Career Survey 1979-2006 and prepare trade flow statistics from varying sources. Four main facts emerge: (i) intermediate inputs constitute a major share of imports, and their relevance grows especially in the early decade; (ii) the German workforce increasingly specializes in workplace activities and job requirements that are typically considered non-offshorable, mainly within and not between sectors and occupations; (iii) the imputed activity and job requirement content of German imports grows relatively more intensive in work characteristics typically considered offshorable; and (iv) labour-market institutions at German trade partners are largely unrelated to the changing task content of German imports but German sector-level outcomes exhibit some covariation consistent with faster task offshoring in sectors exposed to lower labour-market tightness. We discuss policy implications of these findings.

Suggested Citation

  • Sascha O. Becker & Marc-Andreas Muendler, 2014. "Trade and Tasks: An Exploration over Three Decades in Germany," NBER Working Papers 20739, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20739
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    Cited by:

    1. Keller, Wolfgang & Utar, Hale, 2016. "International Trade and Job Polarization: Evidence at the Worker-Level," CEPR Discussion Papers 11311, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Aleksandra Parteka & Joanna Wolszczak-Derlacz, 2020. "Wage response to global production links: evidence for workers from 28 European countries (2005–2014)," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 156(4), pages 769-801, November.
    3. Winkler, Erwin, 2020. "Diverging paths: Labor reallocation, sorting, and wage inequality," VfS Annual Conference 2020 (Virtual Conference): Gender Economics 224535, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    4. Eduard Storm, 2022. "Task specialization and the Native‐Foreign Wage Gap," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 36(2), pages 167-195, June.
    5. Egger, Hartmut & Fischer, Christian, 2020. "Increasing resistance to globalization: The role of trade in tasks," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 126(C).
    6. Pflüger, Michael P. & Tabuchi, Takatoshi, 2016. "Comparative Advantage and Agglomeration of Economic Activity," IZA Discussion Papers 10273, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Smirnykh, Larisa & Wörgötter, Andreas, 2019. "The importance of institutional and organizational characteristics for the use of fixed-term contracts in Russia," Journal of East European Management Studies, Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG, vol. 24(1), pages 89-121.
    8. Christian Dippel & Robert Gold & Stephan Heblich & Rodrigo Pinto, 2017. "Instrumental Variables and Causal Mechanisms: Unpacking the Effect of Trade on Workers and Voters," CESifo Working Paper Series 6816, CESifo.
    9. Krenz, Astrid & Prettner, Klaus & Strulik, Holger, 2021. "Robots, reshoring, and the lot of low-skilled workers," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 136(C).
    10. Catherine Laffineur & El Mouhoud, 2015. "The jobs at risk from globalization: the French case," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 151(3), pages 477-531, August.
    11. Irlacher Michael & Koch Michael, 2021. "Working from Home, Wages, and Regional Inequality in the Light of COVID-19," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 241(3), pages 373-404, June.
    12. James Harrigan & Ariell Reshef & Farid Toubal, 2016. "The March of the Techies: Technology, Trade, and Job Polarization in France, 1994-2007," NBER Working Papers 22110, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Aleksandra Parteka & Joanna Wolszczak-Derlacz, 2017. "Workers, Firms and Task Heterogeneity in International Trade Analysis: An Example of Wage Effects of Trade Within GVC," Entrepreneurial Business and Economics Review, Centre for Strategic and International Entrepreneurship at the Cracow University of Economics., vol. 5(2), pages 9-25.
    14. Egger, Hartmut & Jahn, Elke & Kornitzky, Stefan, 2022. "How does the position in business group hierarchies affect workers’ wages?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 194(C), pages 244-263.
    15. Aleksandra Parteka & Joanna Wolszczak-Derlacz, 2019. "Global Value Chains and Wages: Multi-Country Evidence from Linked Worker-Industry Data," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 30(3), pages 505-539, July.
    16. Tobias Brändle, 2015. "Is offshoring linked to offshoring potential? Evidence from German linked employer–employee data," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 151(4), pages 735-766, November.
    17. Irlacher, Michael & Baumgarten, Daniel & Koch, Michael, 2017. "Short- versus long-run effects of offshoring when sectors are heterogeneous," VfS Annual Conference 2017 (Vienna): Alternative Structures for Money and Banking 168272, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    18. Barbara Dluhosch & Daniel Horgos, 2019. "International Competition Intensified: Job Satisfaction Sacrificed?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 143(2), pages 479-504, June.
    19. Hartmut Egger & Elke Jahn & Stefan Kornitzky, 2021. "How Does the Position in Business Group Hierarchies Affect Workers’ Wages?," Working Papers 213, Bavarian Graduate Program in Economics (BGPE).
    20. Naudé, Wim & Nagler, Paula, 2017. "Technological Innovation and Inclusive Growth in Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 11194, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    21. Gordon H. Hanson, 2017. "What Do We Really Know about Offshoring? Industries and Countries in Global Production Sharing," Development Working Papers 416, Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano, University of Milano.
    22. Pflüger, Michael & Tabuchi, Takatoshi, 2019. "Comparative advantage, agglomeration economies and trade costs," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 1-13.
    23. Fana Marta & Giangregorio Luca, 2021. "Routine-biased technical change can fail: Evidence from France," JRC Working Papers on Labour, Education and Technology 2021-14, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    24. Weller, Jürgen, 2020. "Technological change and employment in Latin America: opportunities and challenges," Revista CEPAL, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL), April.
    25. Filipe R. Campante & Davin Chor, 2017. ""Just Do Your Job": Obedience, Routine Tasks, and the Pattern of Specialization," Working Papers DP-2016-35, Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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