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The Effects of Foreign Multinationals on Workers and Firms in the United States

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  • Bradley Setzler
  • Felix Tintelnot

Abstract

Governments go to great lengths to attract foreign multinationals because they are thought to raise the wages paid to their employees (direct effects) and to improve outcomes at local domestic firms (indirect effects). We construct the first U.S. employer-employee dataset with foreign ownership information from tax records to measure these direct and indirect effects. We find the average direct effect of a foreign multinational firm on its U.S. workers is a 7 percent increase in wages. This premium is larger for higher skilled workers and for the employees of firms from high GDP per capita countries. We find evidence that it is membership in a multinational production network—instead of foreignness—that generates the foreign firm premium. We leverage the past spatial clustering of foreign-owned firms by country of owner-ship to identify the indirect effects. An expansion in the foreign multinational share of commuting zone employment substantially increases the employment, value added, and—for higher earning workers—wages at local domestic-owned firms. Per job created by a foreign multinational, our estimates suggest annual gains of 13,400 USD to the aggregate wages of local incumbents, two-thirds of which are from indirect effects. Our estimates suggest that—via mega-deals for subsidies from local governments—foreign multinationals are able to extract a sizable fraction of the local surplus they generate.

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  • Bradley Setzler & Felix Tintelnot, 2019. "The Effects of Foreign Multinationals on Workers and Firms in the United States," NBER Working Papers 26149, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:26149
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    Cited by:

    1. Alfaro-Urena, Alonso & Manelici, Isabela & Vasquez, Jose P, 2019. "The Effects of Multinationals on Workers: Evidence from Costa Rica," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt51r419w9, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
    2. Pahontu, Raluca L., 2021. "Divisive jobs: three facets of risk, precarity, and redistribution," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 111593, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    3. Jonas Hjort & Xuan Li & Heather Sarsons, 2020. "Across-Country Wage Compression in Multinationals," NBER Working Papers 26788, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Katarzyna Bilicka, 2021. "Labor Market Consequences of Antitax Avoidance Policies," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 21-354, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    5. Jonas Hjort & Xuan Li & Heather Sarsons, 2020. "Random-Coefficients Logit Demand Estimation with Zero-Valued Market Shares," Working Papers 2020-15, Becker Friedman Institute for Research In Economics.
    6. Alonso Alfaro Urena & Isabela Manelici & Jose P. Vasquez, 2021. "The Effects of Multinationals on Workers: Evidence from Costa Rican Microdata," Working Papers 285, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
    7. Katharina van Treeck & Konstantin M. Wacker, 2020. "Financial globalisation and the labour share in developing countries: The type of capital matters," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(9), pages 2343-2374, September.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • R1 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics

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