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Are Imports from Rich Nations Deskilling Emerging Economies? - Human Capital and the Dynamic Effects of Trade

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  • Raphael Anton Auer

Abstract

This paper starts by documenting that during the last decades, the human capital embodied in imports from skill abundant nations has noticeably reduced skill accumulation in the less developed world. To identify the causal relation between these variables, the analysis utilizes over-time variation in the supply of skilled labor and the extent to which this variation affects the skill content of trade given the bilateral distance between im- and exporter. In a panel estimation covering 41 non-OCED members, a one standard deviation higher geographic pressure to import human capital is associated with a 12% reduction in the national average length of schooling. The paper next develops a model to analyze the income and welfare consequences of such trade-induced human capital disaccumulation. The model is based on heterogeneous workers who make educational decisions in the presence of complete markets. When heterogeneous workers invest in schooling, high type agents earn a surplus from their investment. Trade shifts this surplus to rich countries that can use skills more efficiently. Consequently, the dynamic effects of liberalization tend to occur to initially rich countries, thus leading to divergence.

Suggested Citation

  • Raphael Anton Auer, 2010. "Are Imports from Rich Nations Deskilling Emerging Economies? - Human Capital and the Dynamic Effects of Trade," Working Papers 2010-18, Swiss National Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:snb:snbwpa:2010-18
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    File URL: https://www.snb.ch/n/mmr/reference/working_paper_2010_18/source/working_paper_2010_18.n.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Yong-Seok Choi & Pravin Krishna, 2004. "The Factor Content of Bilateral Trade: An Empirical Test," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(4), pages 887-914, August.
    2. Dani Rodrik & Arvind Subramanian & Francesco Trebbi, 2004. "Institutions Rule: The Primacy of Institutions Over Geography and Integration in Economic Development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 131-165, June.
    3. Elhanan Helpman & Oleg Itskhoki, 2010. "Labour Market Rigidities, Trade and Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(3), pages 1100-1137.
    4. Auer, Raphael & Fischer, Andreas M., 2010. "The effect of low-wage import competition on U.S. inflationary pressure," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(4), pages 491-503, May.
    5. Elhanan Helpman & Oleg Itskhoki & Stephen Redding, 2010. "Inequality and Unemployment in a Global Economy," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(4), pages 1239-1283, July.
    6. J. M. C. Santos Silva & Silvana Tenreyro, 2006. "The Log of Gravity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(4), pages 641-658, November.
    7. Elhanan Helpman & Oleg Itskhoki & Stephen Redding, 2010. "Unequal Effects of Trade on Workers with Different Abilities," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(2-3), pages 421-433, 04-05.
    8. Elhanan Helpman & Marc Melitz & Yona Rubinstein, 2008. "Estimating Trade Flows: Trading Partners and Trading Volumes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(2), pages 441-487.
    9. Robert C. Feenstra & Robert E. Lipsey & Harry P. Bowen, 1997. "World Trade Flows, 1970-1992, with Production and Tariff Data," NBER Working Papers 5910, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Shahid Yusuf & Kaoru Nabeshima, 2012. "Some Small Countries Do It Better : Rapid Growth and Its Causes in Singapore, Finland, and Ireland," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2243.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Factor Content of Trade; Employment; Human Capital; Economic Growth;

    JEL classification:

    • F11 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Neoclassical Models of Trade
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions

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