Publication: Exports, Export Destinations, and Skills

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World Bank
This paper explores the links between exports, export destinations and skill utilization by firms. The authors identify two mechanisms behind these links, which we integrate into a unified theory of export destinations and skills. First, exporting to high-income countries requires quality upgrades that are skill-intensive (Verhoogen, 2008). Second, exporting in general, and exporting to high-income destinations in particular, requires services like distribution, transportation, and advertising, activities that are also intensive in skilled labor (Matsuyama, 2007). Both theories suggest a skill-bias in export destinations: firms that export to high-income destinations hire more skills and pay higher wages than firms that export to middle-income countries or that sells domestically. The authors test the theory using a panel of manufacturing Argentine firms. The data cover the period 1998-2000 and thus span the Brazilian currency devaluation of 1999. The authors use the exogenous changes in exports and export destinations brought about by this devaluation in a major export partner to identify the causal effect of exporting and of exporting to high-income countries on skill utilization. The authors fine that Argentine firms exporting to high-income countries hired a higher proportion of skilled workers and paid higher average wages than other exporters (to non high-income countries) and domestic firms. Instead, the authors cannot identify any causal effect of exporting per se on either skill utilization or average wages.
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World Bank. 2010. Exports, Export Destinations, and Skills. © License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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