Trade and tasks: an exploration over three decades in Germany

Sascha O. Becker, Marc Andreas Muendler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


This paper combines representative worker-level data that cover time-varying joblevel task characteristics of an economy over several decades with sector-level bilateral trade data for merchandise and services. We carefully create longitudinally consistent workplace characteristics from the German Qualification and Career Survey 1979- 2006 and prepare trade flow statistics from varying sources. Four main facts emerge: (1) intermediate inputs constitute a major share of imports and dominate German imports since at least the 1970s; (2) the German workforce increasingly specializes in workplace activities and job requirements that are typically considered non-offshorable, mainly within and not between sectors and occupations; (3) the imputed activity and job requirement content of German imports grows relatively more intensive in work characteristics typically considered offshorable; and (4) labourmarket institutions at German trade partners are largely unrelated to the changing task content of German imports but German sector-level outcomes exhibit some covariation consistent with faster task offshoring in sectors exposed to lower labourmarket tightness. We discuss policy implications of these findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)589-641
Number of pages53
JournalEconomic Policy
Issue number84
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Human Capital
  • Skills
  • Occupational Choice
  • Labor Productivity
  • Empirical Studies of Trade
  • Trade and Labor Market Interactions
  • Labor Demand

Cite this