NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Global Value Chains and Inequality with Endogenous Labor Supply

Eunhee Lee, Kei-Mu Yi

NBER Working Paper No. 24884
Issued in August 2018
NBER Program(s):International Trade and Investment Program

We assess the role of global value chains in transmitting global integration shocks to aggregate trade, as well as distributional outcomes. We develop a multi-country general equilibrium trade model that features multi-stage production, with different stages having different productivities and using factors (occupations) with different intensities. The model also features a Roy mechanism, in which heterogeneous workers endogenously choose their sector and occupation. Country- and worker-level comparative advantages interact. A reduction in trade costs leads to countries specializing in their comparative advantage sectors and production stages. This specialization changes labor demand, and also leads to more workers shifting to their comparative advantage sectors and occupations. We calibrate our model to the U.S., China, and the rest of the world in 2000 and we simulate a decline in China's trade costs with the U.S., designed to mimic China's entry into the WTO. Our simulation results imply an increase in the skill premium in both the U.S. and China, and the GVC, i.e., specialization across stages, is critical to this outcome.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w24884

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