Trade, Offshoring, And The Invisible Handshake

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Executive Summary

The authors study the effect of globalization on the volatility of wages and worker welfare in a model in which risk is allocated through long-run employment relationships (the 'Invisible handshake'). Globalization can take two forms: International integration of commodity markets (i.e., free trade) and international integration of factor markets (i.e., offshoring). In a two-country, two-good, and two-factor model they show that free trade and offshoring have opposite effects on rich-country workers. Free trade hurts rich-country workers, while reducing the volatility of their wages; by contrast, offshoring benefits them, while raising the volatility of their wages. They thus formalize, but also sharply circumscribe, a common critique of globalization.

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