Katharine G. Abraham, Melissa Kearney, 17 October 2018

The employment rate among non-elderly adults in the US remains low by historical standards and in comparison with other rich countries. This column reviews the evidence on the main causes of the secular decline in employment since the turn of the century. Labour demand factors – notably import competition from China and the rise of industrial robots – emerge as the key drivers. Some labour supply and institutional factors also have contributed to the decline, but to a lesser extent.

Sónia Cabral, Pedro S. Martins, João Pereira dos Santos, Mariana Tavares, 30 September 2018

The labour market effects of import competition from China are becoming increasingly relevant. This column analyses both the direct and indirect labour market effects of rising international trade exposure to China, focusing on Portugal. It suggests that the wages and employment of Portuguese workers are negatively affected by China’s competition in third-country markets. Certain groups such as female, older, and less-educated workers, are particularly badly hit.

Stefan Thewissen, Olaf van Vliet, 06 September 2018

The recent revival of protectionism has prompted further interests in the domestic employment effects of imports, in particular from China. This column examines the association between Chinese imports and domestic employment effects in 17 sectors across 18 OECD countries with diverse labour market institutions. The results indicate that employment fell in sectors that are more exposed to imports from China, especially among low-skilled workers. 

Simon Evenett, Johannes Fritz, 24 January 2018

On 22 January 2018, President Trump imposed safeguard duties on imported washing machines and solar panels and cells. This column analyses import surges into the US from 2006 to 2016 to put these tariff increases in perspective. Using a simple, theory-inspired method for identifying surges, it finds that during 2014-6 a category of manufactured good in the US had a one-in-32 chance of witnessing an import surge each year. US import surges aren’t concentrated in sectors where China has severe excess capacity either.

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