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The links between internationalization, skills and wages. The role of differences across firms and across partner countries

  • Francesco Serti
  • Chiara Tomasi
  • Antonello Zanfei

Using firm level data on Italian manufacturing industry, we examine how trade activities are related to workforce composition and wages. We contribute to empirical research on these issues in three ways. First, we provide novel evidence that is consistent with multi-attribute models on firm heterogeneity and trade. In fact we show that even after controlling for various firm characteristics, including size and capital intensity, exporters still pay higher wages and employ more skilled workers than non exporters. Second, we consider the engagement of firms in international transactions, either by means of exports, imports or a combination of the two. We show that failing to control for the importing activities may bias upward export premia. Third, we look at how the wage and the employment structures of trading firms change with the country of destination and origin of trade flows. We find that wage and skill premia increase for both exporters and importers as they trade with more distant markets. Richer countries are instead associated with higher premia for importers and not for exporters.

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Paper provided by Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy in its series LEM Papers Series with number 2009/19.

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Date of creation: 10 Dec 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ssa:lemwps:2009/19
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  1. Thomas Chaney, 2008. "Distorted Gravity: The Intensive and Extensive Margins of International Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1707-21, September.
  2. Mirabelle Muûls & Mauro Pisu, 2007. "Imports and Exports at the Level of the Firm : Evidence from Belgium," Working Paper Research 114, National Bank of Belgium.
  3. Andrew.B Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Stephen Redding & Peter K. Schott, 2007. "Firms in international trade," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3682, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  4. Bartelsman, Eric & Haltiwanger, John C. & Scarpetta, Stefano, 2004. "Microeconomic Evidence of Creative Destruction in Industrial and Developing Countries," IZA Discussion Papers 1374, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Aw, B. -Y. & Hwang, A. R., 1995. "Productivity and the export market: A firm-level analysis," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 313-332, August.
  6. Andrew B Bernard & Jonathan Eaton & J. Bradford Jensen & Samuel Kortum, 2000. "Plants and productivity in international trade," Working Papers 00-08, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  7. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen, 1997. "Exceptional Exporter Performance: Cause, Effect, or Both?," NBER Working Papers 6272, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Maurice Kugler & Eric Verhoogen, 2008. "The Quality-Complementarity Hypothesis: Theory and Evidence from Colombia," NBER Working Papers 14418, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Richard Baldwin & James Harrigan, 2007. "Zeros, Quality and Space: Trade Theory and Trade Evidence," NBER Working Papers 13214, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Mary Amiti & Jozef Konings, 2007. "Trade Liberalization, Intermediate Inputs, and Productivity: Evidence from Indonesia," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1611-1638, December.
  11. Mark J. Melitz, 2002. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," NBER Working Papers 8881, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Michele Di Maio & Federico Tamagni, 2006. "The evolution of world trade and the Italian ‘anomaly': a new look," Working Papers 39-2006, Macerata University, Department of Finance and Economic Sciences, revised Oct 2008.
  13. repec:oup:qjecon:v:109:y:1994:i:2:p:367-97 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. Juan Carlos Hallak & Jagadeesh Sivadasan, 2009. "Firms' Exporting Behavior under Quality Constraints," Working Papers 09-13, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  15. Ottaviano, Gianmarco & Melitz, Marc, 2008. "Market Size, Trade, and Productivity," Scholarly Articles 3229096, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  16. Laszlo Halpern & Miklos Koren & Adam Szeidl, 2006. "Imports and Productivity," 2006 Meeting Papers 796, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  17. Luca De Benedictis, 2005. "Three Decades of Italian Comparative Advantages," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 28(11), pages 1679-1709, November.
  18. Hiroyuki Kasahara & Beverly Lapham, 2008. "Productivity and the Decision to Import and Export: Theory and Evidence," CESifo Working Paper Series 2240, CESifo Group Munich.
  19. repec:oup:qjecon:v:113:y:1998:i:3:p:903-947 is not listed on IDEAS
  20. Davide Castellani & Francesco Serti & Chiara Tomasi, 2008. "Firms in International Trade: Importers and Exporters Heterogeneity in the Italian Manufacturing Industry," LEM Papers Series 2008/04, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  21. Giulio Bottazzi & Marco Grazzi, 2007. "Wage structure in Italian Manufacturing firms," LEM Papers Series 2007/05, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  22. repec:oup:qjecon:v:123:y:2008:i:2:p:489-530 is not listed on IDEAS
  23. Robert Feenstra & Gordon Hanson, 2001. "Global Production Sharing and Rising Inequality: A Survey of Trade and Wages," NBER Working Papers 8372, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Schank, Thorsten & Schnabel, Claus & Wagner, Joachim, 2007. "Do exporters really pay higher wages? First evidence from German linked employer-employee data," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 52-74, May.
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