Trade and Employment in Asia | Asian Development Bank

Trade and Employment in Asia

Publication | October 2013
Trade and Employment in Asia

In the context of global rebalancing, accompanied by inevitable changes in trade patterns between Asia and the rest of the world, the volume's chapters analyze the links between trade openness and trends in employment and its quality.

Specifically, through Asian case studies (both analytical and econometric), the volume examines how trade and export-led growth models have led to specialization and evolving demands on various types of labor. The rapidly changing labor market contours in developing Asia during this era of globalization, along with the new context resulting from the recent global financial crisis and new insights from theoretical literature, have led to the need for such studies. This volume helps fill this gap in the literature.


"A timely volume on the crucial question of trade and employment, studied in the dynamic and important context of East Asia. The mix of findings based on detailed empirical work and country experiences using case studies is innovative. Extremely relevant for policymakers in emerging countries everywhere."-Kishore S.Gawande, Helen and Roy Ryu Professor of Economics and Government, The Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University

"This excellent collection of research papers edited by Khor and Mitra deftly combines theoretical insight with country case studies to explore a wide range of issues concerning globalization, growth and labor markets in Asia and the implications for the global economy. Highly recommended for academics, policy makers and students seeking to understand these complex issues and to craft policy solutions."-Pravin Krishna, Chung Ju Yung Distinguished Professor of International Economics, Johns Hopkins University

'The recent recession has raised important questions not only for the economies of relatively rich countries but also for the emerging economies of Asia and for their paths to development. These questions are raised in this volume in which scholars interested in issues covering the union of international trade, economic growth, and labor markets will find much food for thought.'-John Pencavel, Pauline K. Levin-Robert L. Levin and Pauline C. Levin-Abraham Levin Professor of Economics, Stanford University, Senior Fellow, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research

'This volume makes an important and timely contribution to our understanding of the relationship between international trade, employment and structural change in Asia. The authors convincingly demonstrate that labor intensive manufacturing for export has created large numbers of jobs for relatively unskilled labor generating growth enhancing structural change. And they correctly point out that the key question facing policymakers at this point in time is whether or not this trend can continue in light of rising wages and limited growth in the industrialized world. Both the thematic chapters and the county case studies are a 'must read' for anyone interested in these issues.'-Margaret McMillan, Associate Professor of Economics, Tufts University, Senior Research Fellow, IFPRI

'The impact of trade on labor markets depends heavily on country characteristics. This important book provides a combination of country case studies and theme driven research to help us better understand the impact that globalization had on different aspects of labor markets in one of the most interconnected regions of the world. This is a must read for policy makers and academics who want to understand how labor market conditions are affected by changes in world markets.'-Marcelo Olarreaga, Professor of Economics, University of Geneva


  • Introduction, Niny Khor and Devashish Mitra
  • Trade, Structural Changes, and Quality of Employment
    • Trade, Growth, and Structural Changes in Employment in Developing Asia, John Gilbert
    • Trade and the Quality of Employment, Robert Flanagan and Niny Khor
    • Competition, Labor Intensity and Specialization: Structural Changes in Post-crisis Asia, Yothin Jinjarak and Kanda Naknoi
    • Labor Market Institutions, Paul Vandenberg and Moritz Meyer
  • Country Case Studies
    • Exports and Employment in the PRC, Cai Fang and Du Yang
    • Trade and Employment in Hong Kong, China: Towards a Service Economy, James Vere
    • Indonesia: Dynamics of Trade and Employment, Haryo Aswicahyono, Douglas H. Brooks, and Christopher Manning
    • Trade, Labor Market Institutions and the Pressure on Labor Markets: The Case of Korean Manufacturing, Devashish Mitra and Jeongeun Shin
    • Foreign Labor in Malaysian Manufacturing: Trends, Patterns and Implications for Domestic Wages, Premachandra Athukorala and Evelyn S. Devadason