Low-Wage Import Competition, Inflationary Pressure,and Industry Dynamics in Europe

Raphael Anton Auer, Kathrin Degen and Andreas M. Fischer



JEL classification
F11, F12, F14, F16, F40

intra-industry trade, comparative advantage, globalization


What is the impact of import competition from low-wage countries (LWCs) on inflationary pressure in Europe? This paper examines whether labor-intensive exports from emerging Europe, Asia, and other global regions have a uniform impact on producer prices in Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. In a panel covering 110 (4-digit) NACE industries from 1995 to 2008, instrumental variable estimations predict that LWC import competition is associated with strong price effects. More specifically, when LWC exporters capture 1% of European market share, producer prices decrease by about 3%. In contrast, no effect is present for import competition from low-wage countries in Central and Eastern Europe. Next, decomposing the mechanisms that underlie the LWC price effect on European industry, we show that import competition has a pronounced effect on average productivity and only a muted effect on wages. Owing to the exit of firms and the increase in productivity, LWC import competition is shown to have substantially reduced employment in the European manufacturing sector.