OECD Trade Policy Papers

1816-6873 (online)
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This series is designed to make available to a wider readership selected trade policy studies prepared for use within the OECD.

NB. No. 1 to No. 139 were released under the previous series title OECD Trade Policy Working Papers.


Trade, global value chains and wage-income inequality You or your institution have access to this content

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Javier Lopez Gonzalez, Przemyslaw Kowalski1, Pascal Achard1
Author Affiliations
  • 1: OECD, France

26 June 2015
Bibliographic information

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The rise in global value chain (GVC) participation has coincided with significant changes in the distribution of wage income both within and across countries. This paper sets out to identify the linkages between these phenomena. It shows that GVC participation has a small effect on the distribution of wages and, when it has, it can reduce wage inequality when it concerns participation related to low-skilled segments of the labour force. This suggests that the potential tensions between equity and aggregate economic outcomes of GVC participation hold only in particular cases, namely when participation relates to high-skilled segments of the labour force. For policy-makers seeking to maximise the benefits of GVC participation, questions of a more equitable distribution of returns to workers might focus on skill-upgrading of low-skilled labour by promoting further tertiary education and development of skills.
GVCs, trade in tasks, income inequality, globalisation, global value chains, offshoring
JEL Classification:
  • F14: International Economics / Trade / Empirical Studies of Trade
  • F16: International Economics / Trade / Trade and Labor Market Interactions
  • F6: International Economics / Economic Impacts of Globalization
  • J31: Labor and Demographic Economics / Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs / Wage Level and Structure ; Wage Differentials
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