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Skills and Activity Upgrading in Global Value Chains: Trends and Drivers for Asia


  • de Vries, Gaaitzen

    (University of Groningen)

  • Chen, Quanrun

    (University of International Business and Economics)

  • Hasan, Rana

    (Asian Development Bank)

  • Li, Zhigang

    (Asian Development Bank)


This paper examines the trends in skill and activity upgrading in global value chains (GVCs) and the drivers of upgrading in Asian economies. It uses the newly constructed ADB Multi-Region Input-Output Tables as well as occupation data on jobs by educational attainment and business activities, namely research and development; production; logistics, sales, and marketing; administration and back-office; and headquarter activities. Our results suggest an ongoing specialization process in high-income Asian countries and in developing member countries (DMCs) toward high-skilled knowledge-intensive activities. The pace of upgrading differs across Asian countries, being more rapid and encompassing in the People’s Republic of China in comparison to other DMCs. We use a structural decomposition method to account for the drivers of the trends observed. In particular, technological change in GVCs that is biased toward knowledge-intensive activities is important in accounting for the trends observed.

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  • de Vries, Gaaitzen & Chen, Quanrun & Hasan, Rana & Li, Zhigang, 2016. "Skills and Activity Upgrading in Global Value Chains: Trends and Drivers for Asia," ADB Economics Working Paper Series 496, Asian Development Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:ris:adbewp:0496

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Marcel P. Timmer & Erik Dietzenbacher & Bart Los & Robert Stehrer & Gaaitzen J. Vries, 2015. "An Illustrated User Guide to the World Input–Output Database: the Case of Global Automotive Production," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 23(3), pages 575-605, August.
    2. Meng, Bo & Peters, Glen P. & Wang, Zhi & Li, Meng, 2018. "Tracing CO2 emissions in global value chains," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 24-42.
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    More about this item


    functional upgrading; global multiregional input–output model; global supply chains; structural decomposition analysis; World Input-Output Database;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D57 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Input-Output Tables and Analysis
    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
    • F63 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization - - - Economic Development

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