آزادسازی تجارت و تنظیم سرمایه های انسانی
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : International Economics, Volume 81, Issue 2, July 2010, Pages 230-239
This paper highlights the way in which workers of different ages and abilities are affected by anticipated and unanticipated trade liberalisations. A two-factor (skilled and unskilled labour), two-sector Heckscher–Ohlin trade model is supplemented with an education sector which uses skilled labour and time to convert unskilled workers into skilled workers. A skilled worker's income depends on her ability, but all unskilled workers have the same income. Trade liberalisation in a relatively skilled labour abundant country increases the relative skilled wage and induces skill upgrading by the existing workforce, with younger and more able unskilled workers most likely to upgrade. But not all upgraders are better off as a result of the liberalisation. The older and less able upgraders are likely to lose. For an anticipated liberalisation we show that the preferred upgrading strategies depend on a worker's ability and that much of the upgrading will take place before the liberalisation. Hence some workers who would have upgraded had they anticipated the liberalisation will not if it is unanticipated, and adjustment assistance that applies only to post-liberalisation upgraders will fail to compensate some losers and distort the upgrading decisions of others.
The links between product prices and factor returns are a key element of general equilibrium trade models. Interest in these links was heightened by the recent “trade and wages” debate, where lower prices of unskilled labour intensive products were put forward as one explanation for the decline in the relative wage of unskilled workers in advanced, skill-abundant countries. The underlying argument was based on the Stolper–Samuelson theorem which implies that trade liberalisation in unskilled labour scarce countries will lead to a fall in the relative price of unskilled labour intensive imports and a fall in the relative return to unskilled labour. The general conclusion of this debate seems to be that, while trade liberalisation may have been a contributing factor, technological change played the major role. The changes in relative product prices that follow from trade liberalisation will also cause domestic resource reallocation towards those traded goods industries in which the country has a comparative advantage. These reallocations are an important source of gains from trade. But in the short run they will involve adjustment costs, and adjusting workers in particular are likely to suffer periods of unemployment, in addition to any longer run changes in their income streams. Although these costs are conventionally viewed as transitory and small relative to the benefits of liberalisation (Matusz and Tarr, 2002, for example), the characteristics of the affected workers indicate that they may be larger than previously thought. Trade-related displaced workers tend to be older and have less formal education than other displaced workers, characteristics that reduce the re-employment prospects of any worker (Kletzer, 2004). Our aim is to extend the analysis of adjustment to trade liberalisation in a slightly different direction. Accepting that liberalisation in developed countries leads to an increase in the relative return to skilled labour, we explore the implications this has for skill acquisition by the existing workforce — i.e. not just by new entrants. This is a relatively neglected aspect of adjustment. By treating workers within each skill group as homogeneous, most trade models implicitly assume all skilled and unskilled workers are affected equally. But the changes in relative factor returns will cause some currently unskilled workers to rethink and reverse their decision to stay unskilled. The adjustment process that this induces begins immediately, and may not be completed until long after the short run frictions have been overcome. Worker characteristics will be crucial in determining their decisions, and our paper highlights the way in which workers of different age and ability are affected by a trade expansion. In fact, our framework applies to any production or price shock that changes relative wages, including those induced by technological change. We focus on trade liberalisation because its timing is also a policy choice, which allows us to consider whether it should be pre-announced. Our model modifies and extends earlier work by Findlay and Kierzkowski (1983) [FK] and Borsook (1987). We consider a small economy which consists of a manufacturing (traded goods) and an educational sector. The manufacturing sector is Heckscher–Ohlin in structure and produces two traded goods using the services of skilled and unskilled labour. Unskilled workers enter the labour force without training. Education transforms unskilled individuals into skilled workers but takes time and resources.1 We assume individuals differ in their (exogenous) ability level and, while the income of the unskilled is independent of their ability, more able skilled workers earn a proportionately higher income. Following Becker (1993), we model the educational investment decision accounting for the relationship between earning profiles, ability and age. In contrast to previous models we allow individuals to change labour status at any time in their working lives. The decision to enter the labour market as unskilled can be reversed later through schooling.2 The return to education is an increasing function of ability and youth. Given relative product prices, all individuals with ability above an endogenous threshold will become skilled. A trade liberalisation changes this steady state threshold and affects relative factor supplies and hence outputs in the long run. While we also consider these long run changes, which are the main focus of Findlay and Kierzkowski, 1983 and Borsook, 1987, our main concern is with the medium run effects on the skill composition of the workforce existing at the time liberalisation occurs or is announced.3 Two key simplifying assumptions are worth emphasising. First, we abstract completely from the short run frictional costs that are the focus of much of the adjustment literature. The movement of skilled and unskilled workers between production activities is assumed to be instantaneous and costless. This simplification allows us to highlight the adjustment through skill upgrading by the existing workforce that has been largely neglected to date. Second, the HO structure implies that, as long as a country's manufacturing sector is non-specialised, factor returns depend only on product prices. In particular factor returns are constant throughout the adjustment process, so that workers' skill upgrading decisions are based on fixed and known future earnings. It should be emphasised that these assumptions are made for simplification only. Their relaxation will greatly complicate the analysis but should not invalidate the general results. We are concerned with issues in three areas. Once the model is set up, Section 3 considers the effects of an unanticipated trade liberalisation in a skill-abundant country. The increase in the relative return to skilled labour leads to some skill upgrading by the existing workforce. Which workers upgrade and which of them will gain (relative to the pre-liberalisation equilibrium)? In each ability cohort we determine an upgrader age cutoff, with younger workers upgrading and older workers remaining unskilled. The higher the ability level, the higher this age cutoff. But not all upgraders gain from liberalisation, and for each ability cohort we can also determine an analogous gainer age cutoff, which is lower than the corresponding upgrader cutoff. Thus in any given ability cohort older upgraders tend to lose and younger ones to gain from liberalisation. These results confirm a common perception that older adjusters lose. We then use the relative changes in US wages of high-school and college graduates over the period 1979–92 (as reported by Autor et al. (2008)), as the basis for simulating the effects of an unannounced trade liberalisation in 1992, to illustrate our results. The effects of an announced liberalisation (to take place at a known future date) are then derived in Section 4. Here our main concern is the pattern of upgrading in the workforce existing at the time of announcement. Which workers will choose to upgrade and when? Interestingly, we find that the optimal timing of any upgrading depends only on ability. Upgraders fall into three ability categories. The highest ability upgraders will do so immediately after the announcement. The next highest group will upgrade immediately before the liberalisation and the final group immediately after. The significance of this is that much of the medium term adjustment (upgrading) to an announced liberalisation will occur before liberalisation takes place.4Freund and McLaren (1999) provide evidence that trade flows begin to adjust before preferential trading arrangements come into force, and refer to models where firms make anticipatory “investments” to explain this. We show that anticipatory investments in human capital can be a part of the same process. These results are illustrated by simulating the labour market outcomes if the 1992 liberalisation considered in Section 3 was announced in 1979. We also argue that worker adjustment in anticipation of the increase in the relative wage of skilled workers that took place after 1980 could provide an alternative explanation for the differing paths of relative wages and relative supplies of young and old workers considered by Card and Lemieux (2001). Section 5 briefly highlights two implications of our analysis for the design of programs of adjustment assistance. The first is to note that those undertaking adjustment (the upgraders) are a mixture of gainers and losers from the liberalisation. Any given age cohort contains both, depending on the upgrader's ability. Since the latter is likely to be unobservable, it will be difficult to target assistance at losers. The second implication is that if the liberalisation is anticipated much of the upgrading will (and should) take place before it occurs. But if assistance is only provided post-liberalisation then early upgraders will not be covered. More importantly the decision on when to upgrade will be distorted towards the post-liberalisation period. Section 6 concludes.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Our aim has been to highlight how the characteristics of unskilled workers, particularly age and ability, affect when and whether they opt for skill upgrading in response to liberalisation in a skill-abundant country. An unanticipated liberalisation will induce those close to the old ability threshold to upgrade. Because the return on upgrading is increasing in ability and decreasing in age, younger, more able workers are more likely to upgrade and older, less able workers to remain unskilled. Not all upgraders are better off. Specifically, for any given ability cohort the youngest workers upgrade and gain, an intermediate range upgrade but lose and the oldest remain unskilled (and lose). The balance among these three groups shifts towards the losers as we consider lower ability cohorts. These results confirm the widespread view that older workers are more likely to lose among the adjusters to liberalisation. A similar pattern applies for an announced liberalisation. The most significant difference is that announcement allows the option of upgrading prior to liberalisation and this option will be preferred by those closest to the pre-liberalisation ability threshold and hence those most likely to upgrade. The implication is that if a liberalisation is anticipated, much of the adjustment - or indeed all of it if the liberalisation is small enough - will take place in advance. This has implications for both empirical measurement of adjustment and the design of programs of adjustment assistance. Neither of these should be restricted to the post-liberalisation period. Whether anticipated or not, any adjustment to a trade liberalisation via upgrading is a dynamic process that may take much longer than suggested by conventional analysis. Until the new steady state is achieved (i.e. as long as the workforce contains individuals who entered prior to liberalisation or its announcement), the supply of skilled (unskilled) labour in a skill-abundant country will be below (above) its long run level. While in no way intending to offer a detailed analysis of adjustment assistance, our results suggest two important considerations for program design. First, some upgraders (adjusters) are gainers and some losers. There would seem to be little argument for compensating the former. Second, if liberalisation is anticipated, some adjustment optimally will occur beforehand. A similar outcome has been shown for intersectoral worker movements by Artuc et al. (2008). Hence a program of adjustment assistance that provides subsidies to adjustment costs, but only after the liberalisation has occurred, will distort the timing of adjustment away from its optimal path. There are several directions in which this work might usefully be extended. The integration of short run adjustment costs would allow a more comprehensive consideration of adjustment assistance. Not all upgrading occurs via formal schooling. On-the-job training is an important alternative, often for skills that are firm or industry specific. Investigation of the effects of liberalisation on demand for and supply of these types of skills requires a different model.27 The range of skills relevant to the labour market and different channels through which they can be acquired (from formal schooling to experience) make empirical investigation difficult. Further complexity is added by potential capital market distortions and the role of governments financing and provision of training. But the growing availability of matched worker-firm data sets suggests progress may soon be possible.