NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Foreign Firms, Domestic Wages

Nikolaj Malchow-Møller, James R. Markusen, Bertel Schjerning

NBER Working Paper No. 13001
Issued in March 2007
NBER Program(s):   ITI

Foreign-owned firms are often hypothesized to generate productivity "spillovers" to the host country, but both theoretical micro-foundations and empirical evidence for this are limited. We develop a heterogeneous-firm model in which ex-ante identical workers learn from their employers in proportion to the firm?s productivity. Foreign-owned firms have, on average, higher productivity in equilibrium due to entry costs, which means that low-productivity foreign firms cannot enter. Foreign firms have higher wage growth and, with some exceptions, pay higher average wages, but not when compared to similarly large domestic firms. The empirical implications of the model are tested on matched employer-employee data from Denmark. Consistent with the theory, we find considerable evidence of higher wages and wage growth in large and/or foreign-owned firms. These effects survive controlling for individual characteristics, but, as expected, are reduced significantly when controlling for unobservable firm heterogeneity. Furthermore, acquired skills in foreign-owned and large firms appear to be transferable to both subsequent wage work and self-employment.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w13001

Published: Nikolaj Malchow-Møller & James R. Markusen & Bertel Schjerning, 2013. "Foreign Firms, Domestic Wages," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 115(2), pages 292-325, 04. citation courtesy of

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