DP3936 Wages and International Trade

Author(s): Francis Kramarz
Publication Date: June 2003
Keyword(s): bargaining, competition, imports, internationaltrade, wages
JEL(s): F30, F40, J30
Programme Areas: Labour Economics
Link to this Page: www.cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=3936

In this Paper, I present direct micro-econometric evidence of the relation between individual wages of French workers and the import behaviour of their employing firms. First, a model shows that the impact of firms’ imports on workers’ wages not only comes from movements in the quasi-rent induced by competitive pressures but also from alterations of workers and firms threat points in the bargaining process induced by trade. To estimate this model, I use a unique matched employer-employee data source that contains information on firms’ inputs, including imports by type of product and by country of origin, as well as individual characteristics of a representative sample of workers employed at those firms. Because the quasi-rent - a firm-level variable - and seniority - a person-level variable directly affected by import competition are endogenous in the wage equation, I use export prices of US firms to various destinations as instruments. To summarize my results, I find a bargaining power below 0.20. I also show that workers’ wages deteriorate through competitive pressures. Two effects are at play. In industries where firms actively import finished goods, workers’ wage is decreased. But, firms own imports of the same goods ‘protect’ its workers through a hold-up effect. The total effect is negative for most workers. Highly educated workers appear to benefit from trade, in stark contrast with less educated workers. Also, very experienced workers, when still employed in manufacturing firms, appear to benefit from the hold-up effect but to be most affected by the firm’s competitor’s imports.