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Multinational Production, Skilled Labor and Real Wages

  • James R. Markusen
  • Anthony J. Venables

Adapting our earlier model of multinationals, we address policy issues involving wages and labor skills. Multinational firms may arise endogenously, exporting their firm-specific knowledge capital to foreign production facilities, and geographically fragmenting production into skilled and unskilled-labor-intensive activities. Multinationals thus alter the nature of trade, from trade in goods (produced with both skilled and unskilled labor) to trade in skilled- labor-intensive producer services. Results shed light on several policy questions. First, multinationals increase the skilled/unskilled wage gap in the high income country and, under some circumstances, in the low income country as well. Second, there is a sense in which multinationals export low skilled jobs to the lower income country. Third, trade barriers do not protect unskilled labor in the high income countries. By inducing a regime shift to multinationals, trade barriers protect the abundant factor, at least in the high income country and possibly in both countries. Fourth, a convergence in country characteristics induces the entry of multinationals and raises the skilled-unskilled wage gap in the initially large and skilled-labor-abundant country, and possibly in the small skilled-labor-scarce country as well.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5483.

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Date of creation: Mar 1996
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Publication status: published as in Richard Baldwin (ed), Dynamic Issues in Applied Commercial Policy Analysis, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5483
Note: ITI
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  1. Berman, E. & Bound, J. & Machin, S., 1997. "Implications of Skill-Biased Technological Change: International Evidence," Papers 25, Centre for Economic Performance & Institute of Economics.
  2. Blomström, Magnus & Kokko, Ari, 1996. "Multinational Corporations and Spillovers," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 99, Stockholm School of Economics.
  3. Motta, Massimo, 1992. "Multinational firms and the tariff-jumping argument : A game theoretic analysis with some unconventional conclusions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(8), pages 1557-1571, December.
  4. Teece, David J, 1977. "Technology Transfer by Multinational Firms: The Resource Cost of Transferring Technological Know-how," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 87(346), pages 242-61, June.
  5. Jonathan Eaton & Akiko Tamura, 1995. "Bilateralism and Regionalism in Japanese and U.S. Trade and Direct Foreign Investment Patterns," NBER Working Papers 4758, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Wood Júnior, Thomaz, 1995. "Workers," RAE - Revista de Administração de Empresas, FGV-EAESP Escola de Administração de Empresas de São Paulo (Brazil), vol. 35(2), January.
  7. Edward E. Leamer, 1994. "American Regionalism and Global Free Trade," NBER Working Papers 4753, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. James R. Markusen & Anthony J. Venables, 1995. "Multinational Firms and The New Trade Theory," NBER Working Papers 5036, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. S. Lael Brainard, 1993. "A Simple Theory of Multinational Corporations and Trade with a Trade-Off Between Proximity and Concentration," NBER Working Papers 4269, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Adrian Wood, 1995. "How Trade Hurt Unskilled Workers," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 57-80, Summer.
  11. S. Lael Brainard, 1993. "An Empirical Assessment of the Factor Proportions Explanation of Multi-National Sales," NBER Working Papers 4583, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. S. Lael Brainard, 1993. "An Empirical Assessment of the Proximity-Concentration Tradeoff between Multinational Sales and Trade," NBER Working Papers 4580, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Richard B. Freeman, 1995. "Are Your Wages Set in Beijing?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 15-32, Summer.
  14. Michael Ian Cragg & Mario Epelbaum, 1995. "The Premium for Skills in LDCs: Evidence from Mexico," Working Papers 9505, Centro de Investigacion Economica, ITAM.
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