Essays on Trade Liberalization and Labor Market Outcomes
MetadataShow full item record
This dissertation studies trade liberalization and labor market outcomes. The first two chapters examine the impact of China's trade liberalization on the adjustment of U.S. labor market for skilled and unskilled workers in a dynamic general equilibrium framework with firm heterogeneity and factor proportions. In the first chapter, I most specifically look into the effect of trade cost reduction on U.S. skill premium in an environment which I abstract from labor market friction. Featuring labor market search and matching frictions, the second chapter is part of a broader agenda on the labor market effect of China's trade liberalization and U.S. firms' offshoring decisions, with a greater focus on the dynamics of unemployment of skilled and unskilled workers. The third chapter investigates the impact of the China's increased trade openness on its local labor market. It examines the effects of China's domestic migration policy change and trade liberalization on wage inequality in China using a dynamic general equilibrium model of international trade and internal migration across regions. This dissertation showcases some of the ways trade policy can interact with firms' endogenous offshoring and entry decisions, workers' mobility choices, and labor markets frictions in a dynamic fashion. More specifically, the first chapter studies how wage inequality between skilled and unskilled workers interact with multinational firms' decisions and countries' different factor endowments using a two-country dynamic stochastic model featuring task-offshoring, heterogeneous firms and factor proportions. It shows that besides the traditional Stolper-Samuelson mechanism that shifts factors of production towards a country's comparative advantage sectors, there also exist other firm-level adjustment mechanisms that widen the wage gap after trade liberalization. It finds that in the short run, offshoring widens wage inequality between skilled and unskilled workers through increasing high-skilled wage and lowering low-skilled wage. Such effect is more announced in the beginning phase of the adjustment, and slows down over time as low-skilled wage rises faster than the cool-down of high-skilled wage increase. The intensive margin and the extensive margin are both active in shaping rising wage gap in the home country, with the latter playing a more important role in the short to medium run compared to the beginning stage following the shock. The second chapter studies the dynamic effects of offshoring on the unemployment rates and wage inequality across the high-skilled and low-skilled workers through the dynamics of firms' production location and entry decisions in general equilibrium. First, I examine the dynamic effects of offshoring cost reduction due to China's trade liberalization. Estimates from vector autoregressions (VARs) show that a decrease in offshoring costs is associated with a short-lived increase in low-skilled unemployment, but a persistent decline in high-skilled unemployment and a less persistent expansion of wage gap in the source country. Second, I build a two-country trade-in-task model with firm heterogeneity, endogenous selection into entry and offshoring as well as search and matching frictions to study the channels through which offshoring cost reductions affect the labor market outcomes for different skill groups over time. The model successfully reproduces the VAR evidence and highlights the importance of endogenous firm entry and labor market frictions in generating the empirical dynamic responses of wage and unemployment across different skill groups. The third chapter investigates China's labor market's responses to its own trade liberalization, which is a relatively less explored topic compared to the relationship between the China shock and labor market changes in other countries. Using data from CHIP (Chinese Household Income Project), this chapter aims to fill this gap by estimating the effects of trade liberalization on Chinese local labor markets. In addition, it investigates changes in urban to rural wage inequality and skill premium in urban and rural areas separately with the availability of surveys conducted in urban and rural households. In the model, a dynamic general equilibrium framework with heterogeneous firms, heterogeneous workers and internal migration is employed to study the impact of policy-generated trade cost reduction and easing of migration restrictions on Chinese wage inequality. I focus on the role of labor mobility that characterizes the large rural-to-urban migration in the midst of trade liberalization in shaping skill premium and urban to rural wage inequality. Calibrating the changes in policy-generated migration cost reduction and trade cost decline, as well as productivity increase in the tradable sector, this paper analyzes the responses of different measures of wage inequality and other macroeconomics variables following these shocks. This dissertation highlights the role of interaction of firm dynamics, factor endowments and labor market frictions in shaping the labor market adjustments. The positive effects of offshoring on the labor market for workers regardless of skill levels suggest that more trade frictions designed to restrict offshoring is likely to hinder firm entry, which is a key driver that contributes to higher wages and lower unemployment rates of both skilled and unskilled workers over time. It also points to the importance of labor market reforms by showing that easing of migration restriction and search and matching frictions are both beneficial to exports and wages of all workers, with consequences of rising wage inequality though.
- Economics