Short- and Long-Run Labor Market Adjustment to Import Competition

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Jan 2023
By exploiting spatial variation in import exposure arising from initial differences in industry specialization, we analyze how local labor markets in Mexico adjusted to increased Chinese-import competition over different time horizons. The initial adjustment to the shock took various forms: a decline in the number of wage employees, a substitution of wage employees with piece-rate or outsourced workers, and a substitution of formal employees with informal employees. The negative effects on employment were mainly associated with job destruction from exiting firms, particularly those that were small and medium-sized. During periods in which employment fell, the population that actively participated in the labor force fell. The negative short- and medium-run effects mostly disappeared after 20 years.