International Fragmentation of Production and the Labour Input into Germany’s Exports – An Input-Output-analysis
The import penetration of exports has become a topic of public debate, particularly in the context of Germany’s position as one of the world’s leading exporters. The growth in the volume of intermediate products purchased from abroad for subsequent processing into export goods in Germany seems to be undermining the importance of exports as a driver of domestic production and employment. The gains that arise from an increase in exports seem to have been offset by the losses caused by the crowding out of local production by imports. Empirical evidence on the impact of this international integration of the goods market on the German labour market is ambiguous. Short-term negative effects on employment are claimed to be offset by the long-term benefit that the jobs lost in the short run will eventually be replaced by higher-skilled jobs with better perspectives. Against this background, the following hypothesis is tested empirically: Germany is poor in natural resources, but rich in skilled labour. In line with the Heckscher- Ohlin theory, Germany should therefore specialize in the production of export goods and services that are relatively intensive in these factors and should import those goods and services that are relatively intensive in unskilled labour. The empirical part of the paper deals with the extent of the German export penetration by imports. At first, it analyses by what ways imports are affecting the exports directly and indirectly and shows the consequences of import penetration of exports for the national output and employment. Secondly, consequences for employment are split in different skill types of labour. These issues are discussed with the standard open static inputoutput- model. The data base is a time series of official input-output tables. The employment effects for Germany divided by skill types of labour are investigated using skill matrices generated by the authors.