Skill Dispersion and Trade Flows

We ask whether skill dispersion is a source of comparative advantage. We find evidence of sizable effects linking the dispersion of skills to industry specialization.

American Economic Review, 102 (5), 2327-2348, August 2012

With
Matilde Bombardini and German Pupato

Abstract

Is skill dispersion a source of comparative advantage? In this paper we use microdata from the International Adult Literacy Survey to show that the effect of skill dispersion on trade flows is quantitatively similar to that of the aggregate endowment of human capital. In particular we investigate, and find support for, the hypothesis that countries with a more dispersed skill distribution specialize in industries characterized by lower complementarity of workers’ skills. The result is robust to the introduction of controls for alternative sources of comparative advantage, as well as to alternative measures of industry-level skill complementarity.

PAPER (PDF)

DATA AND CODE

Citation

@article{BGP2012skill,
  title={Skill Dispersion and Trade Flows},
  author={Matilde Bombardini, Giovanni Gallipoli, Germ{\'a}n Pupato},
  journal={The American Economic Review},
  volume={102},
  number={5},
  pages={2327--2348},
  year={2012}
}