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Do foreign-owned firms provide better working conditions than their domestic counterparts? A comparative analysis

  • Alexander Hijzen
  • Pedro S. Martins
  • Thorsten Schank
  • Richard Upward

This paper analyses to what extent working conditions in foreign-owned firms differ from those in their domestic counterparts. It makes three main contributions. First, we replicate the consensus in the empirical literature by applying a standardised methodology to firm-level data for three developed (Germany, Portugal, UK) and two emerging economies (Brazil, Indonesia). We show that, consistent with previous evidence, foreign-owned firms offer substantially higher average wages than domestic firms and that this difference is particularly important in emerging economies. Second, we show that these positive wage effects of foreign takeovers reduce in size when controlling for changes in the composition of the workforce, although they tend to remain positive and statistically significant. However, the wage effects associated with worker movements from domestic to foreign firms are potentially important, particularly in emerging economies. Third, we look not only at wage outcomes but also consider other working conditions such as working hours, job stability and union coverage. We find that foreign takeovers of domestic firms tend to have a small positive effect on wages, but little effect on other aspects of working conditions.

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Paper provided by University of Nottingham, GEP in its series Discussion Papers with number 10/21.

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Handle: RePEc:not:notgep:10/21
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  1. Robert E. Lipsey & Fredrik Sjoholm, 2003. "Foreign Firms and Indonesian Manufacturing Wages: An Analysis With Panel Data," NBER Working Papers 9417, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Heyman, Fredrik & Gustavsson Tingvall, Patrik & Sjöholm, Fredrik, 2006. "Is There Really a Foreign Ownership Wage Premium? Evidence from Matched Employer-Employee Data," Working Paper Series 674, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  3. Pedro S. Martins, 2004. "Do Foreign Firms Really Pay Higher Wages? : Evidence from Different Estimators," CRIEFF Discussion Papers 0409, Centre for Research into Industry, Enterprise, Finance and the Firm.
  4. Fosfuri, Andrea & Motta, Massimo & Ronde, Thomas, 2001. "Foreign direct investment and spillovers through workers' mobility," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 205-222, February.
  5. Görg, Holger & Strobl, Eric, 2002. "'Footloose' Multinationals?," CEPR Discussion Papers 3402, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Hijzen, Alexander & Martins, Pedro S. & Schank, Thorsten & Upward, Richard, 2010. "Do Foreign-Owned Firms Provide Better Working Conditions Than Their Domestic Counterparts? A Comparative Analysis," IZA Discussion Papers 5259, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Francesca Fabbri & Jonathan E. Haskel & Matthew J. Slaughter, 2003. "Does Nationality Of Ownership Matter For Labor Demands?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(2-3), pages 698-707, 04/05.
  8. Nikolaj Malchow-Møller & James R. Markusen & Bertel Schjerning, 2009. "Foreign Firms, Domestic Wages," CAM Working Papers 2009-02, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Applied Microeconometrics.
  9. Lars Vilhuber, 2009. "Adjusting Imperfect Data: Overview and Case Studies," NBER Chapters, in: The Structure of Wages: An International Comparison, pages 59-80 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Girma, Sourafel & Gorg, Holger, 2007. "Evaluating the foreign ownership wage premium using a difference-in-differences matching approach," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 97-112, May.
  11. James J. Heckman & Hidehiko Ichimura & Petra E. Todd, 1997. "Matching As An Econometric Evaluation Estimator: Evidence from Evaluating a Job Training Programme," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(4), pages 605-654.
  12. Giorgio Barba Navaretti & Daniele Checchi & Alessandro Turrini, 2002. "Adjusting Labour Demand: Multinationals vs. National Firms: A Cross-European Analysis," Development Working Papers 168, Centro Studi Luca d\'Agliano, University of Milano.
  13. Elhanan Helpman & Marc J. Melitz & Stephen R. Yeaple, 2004. "Export Versus FDI with Heterogeneous Firms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 300-316, March.
  14. Almeida, Rita, 2007. "The labor market effects of foreign owned firms," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 75-96, May.
  15. Pedro S. Martins, 2011. "Paying More To Hire The Best? Foreign Firms, Wages, And Worker Mobility," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 49(2), pages 349-363, 04.
  16. Glass, Amy Jocelyn & Saggi, Kamal, 1999. "Multinational firms and technology transfer," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2067, The World Bank.
  17. Martyn Andrews & Lutz Bellmann & Thorsten Schank & Richard Upward, 2012. "Foreign-owned plants and job security," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 148(1), pages 89-117, April.
  18. Dirk Willem te Velde, 2003. "Do Workers in Africa Get a Wage Premium if Employed in Firms Owned by Foreigners?," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 12(1), pages 41-73, March.
  19. Lipsey, Robert E. & Sjoholm, Fredrik, 2004. "Foreign direct investment, education and wages in Indonesian manufacturing," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 415-422, February.
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