Trade and Tasks: An Exploration over Three Decades in Germany
This paper combines representative worker-level data that cover time-varying job-level task characteristics of an economy over a long time span with sector-level bilateral trade data for merchandize and services. We carefully create longitudinally consistent workplace characteristics from the German Qualification and Career Survey 1979-2006 and prepare trade flow statistics from varying sources. Four main facts emerge: (i) intermediate inputs constitute a major share of imports, and their relevance grows especially in the early decade; (ii) the German workforce increasingly specializes in workplace activities and job requirements that are typically considered non-offshorable, mainly within and not between sectors and occupations; (iii) the imputed activity and job requirement content of German imports grows relatively more intensive in work characteristics typically considered offshorable; and (iv) labour-market institutions at German trade partners are largely unrelated to the changing task content of German imports but German sector-level outcomes exhibit some covariation consistent with faster task offshoring in sectors exposed to lower labour-market tightness. We discuss policy implications of these findings.
We thank Lisandra Flach for outstanding research assistance. We thank Alexandra Spitz-Oener for sharing her task coding for comparisons with our measures, Alfons Geis of GESIS Mannheim for helpful advice on occupational concordances, Karl-Dietrich Fischer of destatis for national accounts information, and Franziska Luding, Sabrina Pitzler and Christof Schmitt of Deutsche Bundesbank for the time consistent preparation of services trade data. Ingo Geishecker, Gene Grossman, Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, Sebastien Miroudot and El Mouhoub Mouhoud provided helpful comments on earlier drafts. We acknowledge with gratitude EFIGE and CAGE for funding and IMT Lucca for hospitality. Becker is also affiliated with CAGE, Ifo, and IZA; Muendler is also affiliated with CAGE. This version was presented at the 60th Economic Policy Panel in Rome, October 2014. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Sascha O. Becker & Marc-Andreas Muendler, 2015. "Trade and tasks: an exploration over three decades in Germany," Economic Policy, Volume 30, Issue 84, Pp. 589 - 641 citation courtesy of