Ms. Kimberly Beaton, Ms. Valerie Cerra, and Metodij Hadzi-Vaskov
This paper examines the impact of trade on employment, wages, and other outcomes across countries and explores the conditions and policies that help spread the gains from trade more evenly throughout the population. We exploit a large global firm-level dataset to examine the impact of import competition on employment, wages, and firm performance, as well as the firm, industry, and country factors that mitigate any negative impact of an import shock. In contrast to the results of some well-known single-country studies, we find limited adverse impact of import competition. In some countries and industries, import competition actually strengthens employment growth. In addition, import competition tends to improve average wages, investment, and firm profitability. Country characteristics, such as educational attainment, can also improve employment prospects in response to trade shocks. Finally, we find that firms experiencing greater import competition start with higher average wages; thus any relatively slower employment growth in this group of firms could lead to lower inequality.
The lack of a clear link between general economic fundamentals and export diversification indicators in the literature has fueled the believe that industrial policies are an absolute requisite to diversify exports. This paper, however, does find a strong statistical connection between horizontal policies and diversification by making two novel changes to traditional methodologies: using export categories that lead to diversification (for example, manufactures) as dependent variables, and using a gravity-equation regression setting. Proximity to other economies explains about a third of cross-country heterogeneity in targeted exports, and four fifths together with horizontal policies. Australia, Chile, and New Zealand emerge as new role models for diversification policies.