Essays on trade shocks and local labor markets




Yu, Chan

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The first two chapters of the dissertation study how local labor market adjusts to trade shocks. The last chapter explores the relationship between economic condition change and health outcomes. In what follows, I describe my three essays.

The first chapter proposes a mechanism through which local labor markets adjust to trade shocks: immigrants’ mobility. I find that immigrants are more responsive than natives to trade shocks. A $1000 increase in the import exposure leads to a 2.6 percent decline in the immigrant population but has little change in the native population. Additionally, immigrant mobility reduces the negative effects of trade shocks on native employment and wages. The study ultimately shows that natives in areas with more immigrants experience smaller declines in employment and wages.

The second chapter studies the disparate impacts of trade liberalization on U.S. workers according to gender and age. Focusing on US-China trade shocks that occurred between 1990-2007, I show that these trade shocks generated larger declines in manufacturing employment and wages for older women than for older men. In contrast to prior studies, I find that discrimination and gender differences in industrial employment play relatively small roles in explaining this pattern. Instead, I present evidence that women's career interruptions from marriage and motherhood provide a more promising explanation. Within an age cohort, trade shocks depress labor market outcomes more strongly for married women with children than their male counterparts.

The last chapter estimates the impact on infant birth outcomes of the farm credit crisis that hit the U.S. Midwest in the 1980s. Exploiting county-level variation in agricultural loans before the crisis, I use a difference-in-differences methodology to show that counties with more pre-existing farmland loans (per acre) experienced relatively worse infant health outcomes as the crisis unfolded. My estimates indicate that a $100 dollar increase in farmland loan (per acre) increased the incidence of low birth weight by around 0.4 percentage points and reduced the birth weight by 19 grams. Other findings show that the credit crisis intensified financial distress and tightened financial constraints for affected households, economic pressures that potentially provide a mechanism for the impact on birth outcomes. Counties that had purchased more farmland prior to the crisis suffered larger declines in their farm earnings, higher delinquency rates, and more bank failures.



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