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Offshoring, Mismatch, and Labor Market Outcomes

Arseneau, David and Epstein, Brendan (2017): Offshoring, Mismatch, and Labor Market Outcomes. Published in: Globalization: Strategies and Effects (2017)

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We study the role of labor market mismatch in the adjustment to a trade liberalization that results in the offshoring of high-tech production. Our model features two-sided heterogeneity in the labor market: high- and low-skilled workers are matched in a frictional labor market with high- and low-tech frms. Mismatch employment occurs when high-skilled workers choose to accept a less desirable job in the low-tech industry. The main result is that this type of job displacement is actually benefcial for the labor market in the country doing the o¤shoring. The reason is that mismatch allows this economy to reallocate domestic high-skilled labor across both high- and low-tech industries. In doing so, this reallocation dampens both the increase in the aggregate unemployment rate and the decline in aggregate wages that come as a consequence of shifting domestic production abroad. From a policy perspective, this result is perhaps counter-intuitive because it suggests that some degree of job dislocation is actually desirable as it helps facilitate adjustment in the labor market following a trade liberalization.

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