The Labor Content of Exports Database
59 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016
Date Written: March 28, 2016
This paper develops a novel methodology to measure the quantity of jobs and value of wages embodied in exports for a large number of countries and sectors for intermittent years between 1995 and 2011. The resulting Labor Content of Exports database allows the examination of the direct contribution of labor to exports as well as the indirect contribution via other sectors of the economy for skilled and unskilled labor. The analysis of the new data sets documents several new findings. First, the global share of labor value added in exports has been declining globally since 1995, but it has increased in low-income countries. Second, in line with the standard Hecksher-Ohlin trade model, the composition of labor directly contained in exports is skewed toward skilled labor in high-income countries relative to developing countries. However, that is not the case for the indirect labor content of exports. Third, manufacturing exports are a key source of labor demand in other sectors, especially in middle- and low-income countries. And the majority of the indirect demand for labor spurred by exports is in services sectors, whose workers are the largest beneficiaries of exporting activities globally. Fourth, differences in the labor value added in exports share across developing countries appears to be driven more by differences in the composition of exports rather than in sector labor intensities. Finally, average wages typically increase rapidly enough with the process of economic development to more than compensate the loss in jobs per unit of exports. The paper also includes the necessary information to build the Labor Content of Exports database from the original raw data, including stata do-files and matlab files, as well as descriptions of the variables in the data set.
Keywords: International Trade and Trade Rules
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