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Offshoring and directed technical change
Acemoglu, Daron; Gancia, Gino; Zilibotti, Fabrizio
Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Departament d'Economia i Empresa
To study the short-run and long-run implications on wage inequality, we introducedirected technical change into a Ricardian model of offshoring. A unique final good isproduced by combining a skilled and an unskilled product, each produced from a continuumof intermediates (tasks). Some of these tasks can be transferred from a skill-abundant Westto a skill-scarce East. Profit maximization determines both the extent of offshoring andtechnological progress. Offshoring induces skill-biased technical change because it increasesthe relative price of skill-intensive products and induces technical change favoring unskilledworkers because it expands the market size for technologies complementing unskilled labor.In the empirically more relevant case, starting from low levels, an increase in offshoringopportunities triggers a transition with falling real wages for unskilled workers in the West,skill-biased technical change and rising skill premia worldwide. However, when the extentof offshoring becomes sufficiently large, further increases in offshoring induce technicalchange now biased in favor of unskilled labor because offshoring closes the gap betweenunskilled wages in the West and the East, thus limiting the power of the price effectfueling skill-biased technical change. The unequalizing impact of offshoring is thus greatestat the beginning. Transitional dynamics reveal that offshoring and technical change aresubstitutes in the short run but complements in the long run. Finally, though offshoringimproves the welfare of workers in the East, it may benefit or harm unskilled workers inthe West depending on elasticities and the equilibrium growth rate.
Macroeconomics and International Economics
directed technical change
skill premium
growth and productivity.
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