You are needed but not your skills: Challenges to manufacturing workers in the wake of globalisation

From a new VOX post:

“The impact of trade shocks on labour market shifts is usually studied in the context of re-training and social welfare frictions. Using evidence from Denmark, this column shows how workers can experience long-run reductions in earnings no matter how easy it is to change sector. A sudden and obligatory shift toward a new sector may, by its nature, generate some worker dissatisfaction.”

“Figure 1 shows the import competition-induced sectoral change. Each marker shows the causal effect of import competition in the corresponding year on employment at the respective job/sector indicated in the legend, as captured by the difference-in-difference specification with individual fixed effects.”

“The challenges faced by manufacturing workers, who once exemplified the middle class, have important implications for the whole society. My findings show that adjustment problems do not end once manufacturing workers find full-time jobs in the growing service sector. And the Danish labour market institutions, despite being successful in keeping the workers within the labour market and ensuring fast inter-sectoral movement as well as largely covering the earnings losses of workers with transfers, were not fully successful in relieving the pain of the people whose human capital is not relevant for service sector jobs. In the end one feels better when earning a living rather than getting a transfer, and when enjoying and taking pride in work rather than changing from one job to another due to skill mis-match. Thus, it may be unavoidable that a sudden and obligatory shift toward a new sector demanding new skills leads to dissatisfaction. Although, the social system in Denmark may be a factor in keeping the dissatisfaction within limits and preventing unwanted political consequences.”

Posted by at 5:42 PM

Labels: Inclusive Growth


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