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Trade liberalization, firm heterogeneity, and wages : new evidence from matched employer-employee data

  • Krishna, Pravin
  • Poole, Jennifer P.
  • Senses, Mine Zeynep

In this paper, the authors use a linked employer-employee database from Brazil to examine the impact of trade reform on the wages of workers employed at heterogeneous firms. The analysis of the data at the firm-level confirms earlier findings of a differential positive effect of trade liberalization on the average wages at exporting firms relative to non-exporting firms. However, this analysis of average firm-level wages is incomplete along several dimensions. First, it cannot fully account for the impact of a change in trade barriers on workforce composition especially in terms of unobservable (time-invariant) characteristics of workers (innate ability) and any additional productivity that obtains in the context of employment in the specific firm (match specific ability). Furthermore, the firm-level analysis is undertaken under the assumption that the assignment of workers to firms is random. This ignores the sorting of worker into firms and leads to a bias in estimates of the differential impact of trade on workers at exporting firms relative to non-exporting firms. Using detailed information on worker and firm characteristics to control for compositional effects and using firm-worker match specific effects to account for the endogenous mobility of workers, the authors find the differential effect of trade openness on wages in exporting firms relative to domestic firms to be insignificant. Consistent with the models of Helpman, Itskhoki, and Redding (2010) and Davidson, Matusz and Schevchenko (2008), they also find that the workforce composition improves systematically in exporting firms in terms of innate (time invariant) worker ability and in terms the quality of the worker-firm matches.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 5711.

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Date of creation: 01 Jun 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5711
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  1. Stefan Bender & Julia Lane & Kathryn Shaw & Fredrik Andersson & Till von Wachter, 2008. "The Analysis of Firms and Employees: Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bend08-1, December.
  2. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Peter K. Schott, 2005. "Importers, Exporters, and Multinationals: A Portrait of Firms in the U.S. that Trade Goods," NBER Working Papers 11404, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg & Nina Pavcnik, 2007. "Distributional Effects of Globalization in Developing Countries," NBER Working Papers 12885, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Munch, Jakob Roland & Rose Skaksen, Jan, 2009. "Human Capital and Wages in Exporting Firms," Working Papers 09-2006, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Economics.
  5. Paula Bustos, 2009. "Trade liberalization, exports and technology upgrading: Evidence on the impact of MERCOSUR on Argentinean firms," Economics Working Papers 1173, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  6. Paula Bustos, 2011. "The Impact of Trade Liberalization on Skill Upgrading Evidence from Argentina," Working Papers 559, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  7. Gustavo Gonzaga & Naércio Menezes Filho & Cristina Terra, 2006. "Trade Liberalization and the Evolution of Skill Earnings Differentials in Brazil," Development Working Papers 216, Centro Studi Luca d\'Agliano, University of Milano.
  8. Abowd, John M. & Kramarz, Francis & Margolis, David N. & Troske, Kenneth R., 2001. "The Relative Importance of Employer and Employee Effects on Compensation: A Comparison of France and the United States," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 419-436, December.
  9. Revenga, Ana, 1997. "Employment and Wage Effects of Trade Liberalization: The Case of Mexican Manufacturing," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(3), pages S20-43, July.
  10. Daniel Trefler, 2006. "The Long and Short of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement," STICERD - Economics of Industry Papers 41, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  11. Kugler, M., Verhoogen, E.A., 2008. "Product Quality at the Plant Level: Plant Size, Exports, Output Prices and Input Prices in Colombia," Working Papers eg0058, Wilfrid Laurier University, Department of Economics, revised Feb 2008.
  12. Thorsten Schank & Claus Schnabel & Joachim Wagner, 2006. "Do exporters really pay higher wages? First evidence from German linked employer-employee data," Working Paper Series in Economics 28, University of Lüneburg, Institute of Economics.
  13. László Halpern & Miklós Koren & Adam Szeidl, 2011. "Imported Inputs and Productivity," CeFiG Working Papers 8, Center for Firms in the Global Economy, revised 16 Sep 2011.
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  15. Naércio Aquino Menezes Filho & Marc-Andreas Muendler, 2007. "Labor Reallocation in Response to Trade Reform," CESifo Working Paper Series 1936, CESifo Group Munich.
  16. repec:oup:qjecon:v:125:y:2010:i:4:p:1727-1767 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. Linda S. Goldberg, 2004. "Industry-specific exchange rates for the United States," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue May, pages 1-16.
  18. Currie, Janet & Harrison, Ann E, 1997. "Sharing the Costs: The Impact of Trade Reform on Capital and Labor in Morocco," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(3), pages S44-71, July.
  19. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
  20. H Li, 2001. "The Relative Importance Of Effort, Organization, And Technological Change In Chinese Factories," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 19(1), pages 99-108, 01.
  21. Essama-Nssah, B. & Go, Delfin S. & Kearney, Marna & Korman, Vijdan & Robinson, Sherman & Thierfelder, Karen, 2007. "Economy-wide and distributional impacts of an oil price shock on the south African economy," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4354, The World Bank.
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