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CEP discussion paper
Worker and firm responses to trade shocks: The UK-China case
Josh De Lyon and Joao Paulo Pessoa
January 2021
Paper No' CEPDP1741:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: F14; F16; J3; J6

Tags: globalisation; employment; wages; uk economy.

We exploit the recent surge in Chinese export growth to study the effects of a trade shock on workers and firms in a foreign market, the UK, in the period 2000-2007. We find that individuals initially employed in sectors highly exposed to growth in imports from China experienced lower income growth and remained out of employment longer than workers in sectors that were less exposed to import competition. The effects are heterogeneous, with initially lower-paid workers suffering more in terms of employment and earnings than those initially better-paid, and female workers experiencing a greater relative fall in total earnings than males, mostly through reduced years of employment. Plants in industries more exposed to Chinese products displayed lower employment growth and higher probability of going out of business than plants in sectors more insulated from competition with China, with stronger effects for larger plants.