Asia and Pacific > China, People's Republic of

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Ms. Kimberly Beaton, Ms. Valerie Cerra, and Metodij Hadzi-Vaskov
This paper examines the impact of trade on employment, wages, and other outcomes across countries and explores the conditions and policies that help spread the gains from trade more evenly throughout the population. We exploit a large global firm-level dataset to examine the impact of import competition on employment, wages, and firm performance, as well as the firm, industry, and country factors that mitigate any negative impact of an import shock. In contrast to the results of some well-known single-country studies, we find limited adverse impact of import competition. In some countries and industries, import competition actually strengthens employment growth. In addition, import competition tends to improve average wages, investment, and firm profitability. Country characteristics, such as educational attainment, can also improve employment prospects in response to trade shocks. Finally, we find that firms experiencing greater import competition start with higher average wages; thus any relatively slower employment growth in this group of firms could lead to lower inequality.
Mariya Brussevich and Ms. Era Dabla-Norris
This paper examines gender inequality in the context of structural transformation and rebalancing in China. We document declining women's relative wages and labor force participation in China during the last two decades, despite rapid growth and expansion of the service sector. Using household data, we provide evidence consistent with a U-shaped relationship between economic development and women's labor market outcomes. Using a model of structural transformation, we show that labor market barriers for women have increased over time. Model counterfactuals suggest that removing these barriers and increasing service sector productivity can boost both gender equality and economic growth in China.
Ms. Valerie Cerra
This paper surveys the literature on the relationship between international trade and inclusive growth. It examines claims that the rise in inequality in many countries can be attributed to the concurrent rise in trade competition, especially from EMEs like China, spurring trade tensions and protectionist measures. The paper investigates the conflicting literature showing the aggregate benefits of trade versus the adverse and persistent impact of trade, especially import competition, on specific industries and local communities. The paper then reviews the evidence for using trade policies and other complementary policies for adjustment and compensation to those groups adversely affected by trade.
Cristian Alonso, Mr. Andrew Berg, Siddharth Kothari, Mr. Chris Papageorgiou, and Sidra Rehman
This paper considers the implications for developing countries of a new wave of technological change that substitutes pervasively for labor. It makes simple and plausible assumptions: the AI revolution can be modeled as an increase in productivity of a distinct type of capital that substitutes closely with labor; and the only fundamental difference between the advanced and developing country is the level of TFP. This set-up is minimalist, but the resulting conclusions are powerful: improvements in the productivity of “robots” drive divergence, as advanced countries differentially benefit from their initially higher robot intensity, driven by their endogenously higher wages and stock of complementary traditional capital. In addition, capital—if internationally mobile—is pulled “uphill”, resulting in a transitional GDP decline in the developing country. In an extended model where robots substitute only for unskilled labor, the terms of trade, and hence GDP, may decline permanently for the country relatively well-endowed in unskilled labor.