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Economic Opening and the Demand for Skills in Developing Countries: A Review of Theory and Evidence


  • David O’Connor
  • Maria Rosa Lunati


A basic feature of development dynamics is the reallocation of labour from low– productivity to higher–productivity activities (generally more capital–intensive and also often more skill–intensive). The expansion of skilled labour supply that accompanies rising per capita incomes is both cause and effect of this shift in skills demand. Over long periods, if skills supply and demand grow apace, skill premia would show little secular change; over shorter periods, however, inevitable lags may show up as growing or shrinking premia. A policy reform like trade liberalisation can accelerate structural change in an economy, causing an exogenous shift in relative factor demands. For some developing countries, the result may be an increase in skills demand associated with the adoption of newly available foreign technology and lower cost imported capital goods. This demand shift may be permanent or only temporary, but in either case the skills supply should eventually increase in response to ... La dynamique du développement entraîne une réaffectation de la main–d’œuvre d’activités à faible productivité vers des activités à productivité plus élevée (généralement plus intensives en capital et exigeant le plus souvent des compétences supérieures). L’accroissement de l’offre de main–d’œuvre qualifiée qui accompagne la hausse des revenus par habitant est à la fois cause et conséquence de cette évolution de la demande de compétences. Sur la longue durée, si l’offre et la demande de compétences progressent à un rythme comparable, le revenu supplémentaire associé aux qualifications reste stable. Mais sur des périodes plus courtes, les décalages inévitables entre l’offre et la demande peuvent se traduire par une hausse ou un effondrement de ce gain différentiel. Une réforme des politiques, comme la libéralisation des échanges, peut accélérer l’évolution structurelle de l’économie, influant de manière exogène sur la demande relative de facteurs. Dans certains pays en développement ...

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  • David O’Connor & Maria Rosa Lunati, 1999. "Economic Opening and the Demand for Skills in Developing Countries: A Review of Theory and Evidence," OECD Development Centre Working Papers 149, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:devaaa:149-en

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    1. repec:ilo:ilowps:366690 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Nathalie Chusseau & Joël Hellier, 2012. "Inequality in Emerging Countries," Working Papers hal-00993411, HAL.
    3. Piva, Mariacristina & Santarelli, Enrico & Vivarelli, Marco, 2005. "The skill bias effect of technological and organisational change: Evidence and policy implications," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 141-157, March.
    4. Piva, Mariacristina., 2004. "The impact of technology transfer on employment and income distribution in developing countries : a survey of theoretical models and empirical studies," ILO Working Papers 993666903402676, International Labour Organization.
    5. Jorge Saba Arbache, 2001. "Trade Liberalisation and Labor Markets in Developing Countries: Theory and Evidence," Studies in Economics 0112, School of Economics, University of Kent.
    6. Ali Saggay & Almas Heshmati & Mohamed Dhif, 2007. "Effects of trade liberalization on domestic prices: Some evidence from Tunisian manufacturing," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 54(1), pages 148-175, March.
    7. Usman Mustafa & Kalbe Abbas & Amara Saeed, 2005. "Enhancing Vocational Training for Economic Growth in Pakistan," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 44(4), pages 567-584.
    8. Green, Francis & Dickerson, Andy & Saba Arbache, Jorge, 2001. "A Picture of Wage Inequality and the Allocation of Labor Through a Period of Trade Liberalization: The Case of Brazil," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(11), pages 1923-1939, November.
    9. Mariacristina Piva & Enrico Santarelli & Marco Vivarelli, 2006. "Technological and organizational changes as determinants of the skill bias: evidence from the Italian machinery industry," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(1), pages 63-73.
    10. Monika Verma & Thomas W. Hertel & Ernesto Valenzuela, 2011. "Are The Poverty Effects of Trade Policies Invisible?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 25(2), pages 190-211, May.
    11. Anderson, Edward, 2005. "Openness and inequality in developing countries: A review of theory and recent evidence," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 33(7), pages 1045-1063, July.
    12. Zouhair MRABET & Lanouar CHARFEDDINE, 2013. "Trade Liberalization, Technology Import And Employment: Evidence Of Skill Upgrading In The Tunisian Context," Region et Developpement, Region et Developpement, LEAD, Universite du Sud - Toulon Var, vol. 37, pages 11-36.
    13. Andy Dickerson & Francis Green & Jorge Saba Arbache, 2001. "Trade Liberalization and the Returns to Education: A Pseudo-panel Approach," Studies in Economics 0114, School of Economics, University of Kent.
    14. Jörg MAYER, 2000. "Globalization, Technology Tranfer And Skill Accumulation In Low-Income Countries," UNCTAD Discussion Papers 150, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
    15. Helena Maria Ferreira Rêgo & Celeste Amorim Varum & Anabela Carneiro, 2010. "Empresas Estrangeiras e Capital Humano nos Serviços Intensivos em Conhecimento," Notas Económicas, Faculty of Economics, University of Coimbra, issue 32, pages 06-21, December.
    16. Asma, Hyder & Javaid, Zainab, 2009. "Impact of Training on Earnings: Evidence from Pakistani Industries," MPRA Paper 19570, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    17. Jörg MAYER, 2001. "Technology Diffusion, Human Capital And Economic Growth In Developing Countries," UNCTAD Discussion Papers 154, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
    18. Mariacristina Piva & Enrico Santarelli & Marco Vivarelli, 2004. "Technological and Organizational Changes as Determinants of the Skill Bias: Evidence from a Panel of Italian Firms," Papers on Entrepreneurship, Growth and Public Policy 2004-03, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Entrepreneurship, Growth and Public Policy Group.
    20. repec:ipg:wpaper:2014-504 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Lanouar Charfeddine & Zouhair Mrabet, 2015. "Trade liberalization and relative employment: further evidence from Tunisia," Eurasian Business Review, Springer;Eurasia Business and Economics Society, vol. 5(1), pages 173-202, June.

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