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Trade, technology, and prosperity: An account of evidence from a labor-market perspective

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  • Muendler, Marc-Andreas

Abstract

Trade and technological change continually alter the workplace and labor-market outcomes, with consequences for economy-wide welfare and the distribution of real incomes. This report assesses the state of economic research into those areas, with a particular focus on empirical methodologies and their adequacy for an assessment of general-equilibrium outcomes. While difference-in-differences techniques and instrumental- variable approaches provide answers, they exhibit shortcomings that limit conclusiveness. Recent advances in structural estimation of multi-country and multisector models that allow for reallocation frictions in domestic labor markets hold promise to deliver more definite empirical answers. Interestingly, a conclusion from a two-decades old strand of literature seems to be vindicated by conclusions from a related recent literature: roughly one-quarter of changes in labor-market outcomes (wage inequality then and manufacturing job losses now) was predicted by trade integration and roughly one-third by technological change. The remainder of changes in labor-market outcomes remains unaccounted. The report offers candidate explanations, rooted in recent evidence, how interactions between globalization, technological progress, and structural change may account for that remainder.

Suggested Citation

  • Muendler, Marc-Andreas, 2017. "Trade, technology, and prosperity: An account of evidence from a labor-market perspective," WTO Staff Working Papers ERSD-2017-15, World Trade Organization (WTO), Economic Research and Statistics Division.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:wtowps:ersd201715
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    4. repec:kap:jeczfn:v:127:y:2019:i:2:d:10.1007_s00712-019-00660-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Dauth, Wolfgang & Findeisen, Sebastian & Suedekum, Jens, 2018. "Adjusting to Globalization in Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 11299, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    6. Mertens, Matthias, 2019. "Micro-mechanisms behind declining labour shares: Market power, production processes, and global competition," IWH-CompNet Discussion Papers 3/2019, Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH).
    7. repec:eee:eecrev:v:111:y:2019:i:c:p:305-335 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    trade; current account balance; automation; choice of technology; industrial structure and structural change; labor-market outcomes; employment; jobs; wages; inequality;

    JEL classification:

    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
    • F32 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Current Account Adjustment; Short-term Capital Movements
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • L16 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Industrial Organization and Macroeconomics; Macroeconomic Industrial Structure
    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

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