A global value chain perspective on trade, employment, and growth

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This thesis analyses Global Value Chains (GVC) and its consequences for economic theories and methods. An increasing number of products are produced in GVCs, with tasks diffused across many countries. Countries specialize in certain tasks instead of finished products. The production and export of products is therefore not aligned with the tasks performed in each country. An exporter of electronics might be a manufacturer of sophisticated electronic components or just the country where low-skilled electronics assembly happens. Using gross exports data can be misleading in trade studies when the identification of actual economic activities is important. I argue that factor trade provides a better analytical perspective. I find that bilateral factor trade is strongly related to each country’s factor endowment, but gross exports are not. Similarly, when analyzing economic development, the label of an industry (e.g. labor- or technology-intensive) is less important compared to the actual tasks a country performs within that industry. I find that it is relatively easy for developing countries to join the GVCs of advanced products like electronics and automobile production by performing low-skilled tasks, but within-industry upgrading is different and quite difficult. Since production is now organized globally, information on all activities in a GVC are needed to analyze technological change. If one only uses data for the domestic economy, it is hard to tell whether a disappeared task is offshored or simplified by technology. Using GVC data we find that offshoring and technological change have quantitatively similar effects on reducing the demand for non-college employment in advanced countries.
Translated title of the contributionEen mondiale waardeketen perspectief op handel, werk, en ontwikkeling
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen
  • Timmer, Marcel, Supervisor
  • de Vries, Gaaitzen, Co-supervisor
Award date20-Jun-2017
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Print ISBNs978-90-367-9901-0
Electronic ISBNs978-90-367-9900-3
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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