The Impact of Chinese Import Competition on the Local Structure of Employment and Wages: Evidence from France
52 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2016
Date Written: September 2016
The rapid rise of Chinese exports over the past two decades has raised concerns about manufacturing jobs and wage inequality in high-income countries. Spill-overs beyond the manufacturing sector are an important issue given the large size of the non-traded sector in modern economies as well as the imperfect spatial mobility of households. In this paper, I estimate the impact of Chinese import competition onto the structure of employment and wages of local labor markets in France, with an emphasis on spill-overs effects beyond manufacturing and the degree of local wage inequality. Local employment and total labor income in both manufacturing and non-manufacturing are negatively affected by rising exposure to imports. The estimates imply that each local manufacturing job destroyed by Chinese import competition results in the loss of about 1.5 local job outside of manufacturing. These substantial “local multiplier effects” are however much lower when expressed in terms of hours worked or earnings rather than job count. Import competition from China polarized the local structure of employment in the manufacturing sector. The wage distribution is uniformly negatively affected in manufacturing while the non-traded sector experiences wage polarization, i.e. a rise in upper-tail inequality and a decline in bottom-tail inequality. While overall wage inequality is on average not affected, I show that it increased in response to trade shocks in areas where the minimum wage is only weakly binding.
Keywords: wage distribution, international trade, import competition, local labor markets.
JEL Classification: F16, J23, J31, R11, R23
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