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Diverging paths: Labor reallocation, sorting, and wage inequality

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  • Winkler, Erwin

Abstract

This paper provides evidence that labor reallocation from the manufacturing into the non-manufacturing sector causes an increase in sorting of high-skilled (low-skilled) workers into high-paying (low-paying) firms and thereby triggers a rise in wage inequality. I use data on 50% of all West German male employees and exploit industry-level variation in trade-induced labor reallocation into the non-manufacturing sector, stemming from Germany's trade integration with China and Eastern Europe. The results suggest that labor reallocation into the non-manufacturing sector causes an increase in sorting because low-educated workers performing routine and codifiable tasks are less likely to move to high paying service firms than more skilled workers. These results are not specific to trade-induced labor reallocation, but carry over to any shock or policy which causes a contraction of the manufacturing sector and labor reallocation into the service sector. A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that total observed labor reallocation into the non-manufacturing sector explains at least 30% of the rise in sorting and 10% of the rise in wage inequality between 1990 and 2010 in Germany.

Suggested Citation

  • Winkler, Erwin, 2020. "Diverging paths: Labor reallocation, sorting, and wage inequality," VfS Annual Conference 2020 (Virtual Conference): Gender Economics 224535, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:vfsc20:224535
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Labor reallocation; wage inequality; sorting; firms; international trade;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade

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