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The share of manufacturing employment has declined continuously for more than two decades in most advanced economies - a phenomenon that is referred to as deindustrialization. For instance, in the group of countries that are classified as "industrial countries" in the IMF's World Economic Outlook, the share of manufacturing employment declined from about 28 percent in 1970 to about 18 percent in 1994. The main issues of debate regarding deindustrialization are whether the secular decline in the share of manufacturing employment ought to be viewed with concern, and the extent to which this decline is caused by factors that are internal to the advanced economies, as opposed to external factors in the form of expanding economic linkages with the developing countries.
The early contributions in this area by Baumol (1967) and Fuchs (1968), which were later extended more systematically by Rowthorn and Wells (1987) and Baumol, Blackman, and Wolff (1989), argued that deindustrialization in advanced economies is not necessarily an undesirable phenomenon, but is essentially the natural consequence of the industrial dynamism exhibited by these economies. As the bulk of the workforce in advanced economies is employed in either manufacturing or services, the evolution of employment shares depends mainly on output and productivity trends in these two sectors. In most advanced economies, labor productivity has typically grown much faster in manufacturing than it has in services, while output growth has been about the same in each sector.(1) Thus, given the similarity of output trends in the two sectors, lagging productivity in the service sector results in this sector absorbing a rising share of total employment, while rapid productivity growth in manufacturing leads to a shrinking employment share for this sector.
This emphasis on differential productivity growth as the main cause of deindustrialization contrasts with Colin Clark's (1957) influential hypothesis that the evolution of employment structure during economic development is explained by a well-defined sequence of changes in the composition of demand. Clark's hypothesis essentially consisted of an extrapolation of Engel's law to the case of manufactures. He argued that - just as, in a poor country, the share of income spent on food declines as per capita income rises, while a growing share is spent on other items such as manufactured goods - as the country develops further, demand shifts increasingly toward services and the share of expenditure devoted to manufactures stabilizes and then ultimately falls. As a result, the employment share of manufacturing should also stabilize and eventually fall. Thus, according to Clark, deindustrialization in advanced economies would be a natural consequence of the shift in demand away from manufactures toward services.
More recent studies seeking to explain the declining share of manufacturing employment, such as for instance those by Sachs and Schatz (1994), Wood (1994 and 1995), and Saeger (1996), broadly concur with the importance assigned to "internal" factors in accounting for deindustrialization. They recognize, however, that "external" factors such as the growth of north-south trade may also have played a significant role in accelerating the decline of manufacturing employment. The role of external factors has been most vigorously stressed by Wood. He argues that manufactured imports from the developing countries are highly labor intensive, and displace many times more workers in the advanced economies than their dollar value would suggest. Thus, even a balanced increase in north-south trade will, under these conditions, reduce manufacturing employment in the north because the number of low-skill jobs lost in the import-competing industries will greatly exceed the new jobs created in the skill-intensive export sector.
The main aim of this paper is to assess the relative importance of the forces described by the various hypotheses that have been put forward to explain deindustrialization. The analytical framework used is an extension of the framework provided in Rowthorn and Ramaswamy (1997). The main findings of the current paper are that deindustrialization has been caused primarily by factors that are internal to the advanced economies - i.e., by the combined effects of the interactions among shifts in the pattern of demand between manufactures and services, the faster growth of productivity in manufacturing as compared to services, and the associated fall in the relative price of manufactures. The regression analysis further indicates that north-south trade has, on average, contributed less than one-fifth to the relative decline of manufacturing employment in the advanced economies. Moreover, the results show that competition from low-wage producers has had little effect on the overall volume of manufacturing output in the advanced economies. The contribution of north-south trade to deindustrialization is shown to have been mainly through its effect in stimulating labor productivity in the manufacturing sector of the advanced economies - firms in the north appear to have responded to the competition from cheaper imports both by utilizing their labor more efficiently and by shifting production increasingly toward higher valued items.
I. Deindustrialization: Some Conceptual Issues
Clark's account of structural change is notable for the weight it assigns to income elasticities of demand in explaining what happens to the output of manufacturing in the course of development. The income elasticity of demand for manufactures is high in poor countries, but low in rich countries, and this explains why the share of manufacturing in output and employment rises at first and falls later on. While there is some empirical basis for this hypothesis (see below), a purely demand-based explanation of deindustrialization is incomplete because it neglects the influence of productivity and prices on the structure of demand, and hence on output and employment. As noted above, labor productivity grows faster in manufacturing than it does in the economy as a whole, and hence the relative price of manufactured goods declines as the economy develops. This in turn encourages the substitution of manufactured goods for other items, especially those services whose relative cost is rising because of the relatively slower growth of productivity in those activities. In the earlier stages of development, the effect of such substitution is to boost the already rapid growth in demand for manufactures, while later on the substitution effect helps to stimulate an otherwise flagging demand for manufactured goods.
From a theoretical point of view, the effect of productivity growth on manufacturing employment is ambiguous. As noted above, on the one hand, the faster growth of productivity in this sector makes manufactured goods relatively cheap, thereby stimulating demand for them. On the other hand, less labor is required to manufacture any given volume of output. How these two influences net out in their effect on manufacturing employment is an empirical question that cannot be settled theoretically. As we shall see below, the evidence suggests that the labor-saving impact of faster productivity growth in the manufacturing sector outweighs the demand-creating effect of lower prices, so the net effect is to reduce the share of employment in this sector.
Figure 1 provides a schematic illustration of what happens to the manufacturing sector as per capita incomes rise. For convenience, units are chosen so that the shares of manufacturing in real output and in employment are initially the same. The curve labeled "hypothetical" shows how these shares would evolve if productivity growth were uniform across sectors and if relative prices were …