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Factor Content of Intra-European Trade Flows

In recent decades, the international division of labor expanded rapidly in course of globalization. In this context, highly developed countries specialized on (human) capital intensively manufactured goods and increasingly sourced parts and components from lowwage countries. Since this should be beneficial for the high-skilled and harmful for the lower qualified workforce, especially the opening up of Eastern Europe and the international integration of newly industrializing Asian economies are considered as main reasons for increasing unemployment of the lower qualified in high-wage countries. The present paper addresses this issue for selected Western European countries by analyzing factor content of trade, which allows inferring on factor demand patterns resulting from international trade. This is not only done for countries’ total external trade, but also for bilateral trade flows, using input-output analyses. Thereby, differences in factor inputs and production technologies are considered, allowing for product differentiation. According to the results, factor content of bilateral trade flows between Western European high-wage countries does hardly differ. However, the results are different for East-West trade, since exports from Western to Eastern Europe are distinctly more human capital intensively manufactured than imports of Western European high-wage countries from Eastern Europe.

14. März 2011

Autoren Götz Zeddies

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Skill Content of Intra-european Trade Flows

Götz Zeddies

in: European Journal of Comparative Economics , Nr. 1, 2013

Abstract

In recent decades, the international division of labor has expanded rapidly in the wake of European integration. In this context, especially Western European high-wage countries should have specialized on (human-)capital intensively manufactured goods and should have increasingly sourced labor-intensively manufactured goods, especially parts and components, from Eastern European low wage countries. Since this should be beneficial for the high-skilled and harmful to the lower-qualified workforce in high-wage countries, the opening up of Eastern Europe is often considered as a vital reason for increasing unemployment of the lower-qualified in Western Europe. This paper addresses this issue by analyzing the skill content of Western European countries’ bilateral trade using input-output techniques in order to evaluate possible effects of international trade on labor demand. Thereby, differences in factor inputs and production technologies have been considered, allowing for vertical product differentiation. In this case, skill content of bilateral exports and imports partially differs substantially, especially in bilateral trade between Western and Eastern European countries. According to the results, East-West trade should be harmful particularly to the medium-skilled in Western European countries.

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