Automation, trade and multinational activity: Micro evidence from Spain

Katherine Stapleton & Michael Webb

Paper Media: VoxEU The Economist CEPR Podcast

We use a rich dataset of Spanish manufacturing firms from 1990 to 2016 to shed new light on how automation in a high-income country affects trade and multinational activity involving lower-income countries. By exploiting supply side improvements in the capabilities of robots over time, as described in patents, we show that contrary to the speculation that automation will cause 'reshoring', the use of robots in Spanish firms actually had a positive impact on their imports from, and number of affiliates in, lower-income countries. Robot use causes firms to expand production, increase productivity and increases the probability that they start importing from, or opening affiliates in, lower-income countries. The sequencing of automation and offshoring has important consequences for the impact of automation, however. For firms that were offshoring to lower-income countries before they starting to use robots, robot adoption had no effect on the value of imports from lower-income countries, but decreased the share of imports sourced from lower-income countries. By contrast, for firms that had not already offshored to lower-income countries, robot adoption made them more likely to start doing so.

Unravelling Deep Integration: Local Labour Market Effects of the Brexit Vote

Beata Javorcik, Ben Kett, Katherine Stapleton and Layla O'Kane

Revise and Resubmit at the Journal of the European Economic Association

Paper VoxEU Summary

This paper uses high frequency data on the near universe of job adverts posted online in the UK to study the impact of the Brexit referendum on labour demand between January 2015 and December 2019. We develop measures of local labour market exposure to the threat of trade barriers on both goods and services exports if the UK were to leave the EU without a trade deal. We find that regions that were more exposed to potential barriers on professional services exports saw a differential decline in online job adverts in the period after the referendum, particularly for higher-skilled jobs. This effect was distinct from the impact of the exchange rate depreciation, uncertainty surrounding future immigration policy and the threat of future barriers on trade in goods.

Did the 2018 trade war improve job opportunities for US workers?

Beata Javorcik, Ben Kett, Katherine Stapleton and Layla O'Kane

Revise and Resubmit at the Journal of International Economics


This paper uses data on the near universe of job adverts posted online in the US to study the impact of the 2018 trade war on US job opportunities. We develop measures of labor market exposure to three key channels of impact from the trade war: import protection for US producers, the higher cost of imported inputs for US producers, and exposure of US exporters to retaliatory tariffs. We find evidence that both tariffs on imported inputs and retaliatory tariffs led to a relative decline in online job postings in affected commuting zones. These effects were stronger for lower skilled postings than for higher skill postings. By contrast, we do not find any evidence of positive impacts of import protection on job openings. We estimate that the tariffs led to a combined effect of 175,000 fewer job postings in 2018, or 0.6 percent of the US total, with two thirds of this aggregate decline due to the imported input tariffs and one third due to retaliatory tariffs.

AI, firms and wages: Evidence from India

Alex Copestake, Ashley Pople & Katherine Stapleton

Paper Slides

We examine the impact of artificial intelligence on hiring and wages in the service sector using a novel dataset of 15 million vacancy posts from India’s largest jobs website. We first document a rapid rise in demand for AI skills since 2016, particularly in the IT, finance and professional services industries. Vacancies demanding AI skills list substantially higher wages, but require more education and are highly concentrated in the largest firms and a small number of high-tech clusters. Exploiting plausibly exogenous variation in exposure to advances in AI technologies, we then examine the impacts of establishment demand for AI skills as a proxy for AI adoption. We find that growth in AI demand has a direct negative impact on the growth of non-AI and total job posts, and reduces the growth of wage offers across the distribution.

Work in Progress

Artificial Intelligence and Services Offshoring

Katherine Stapleton & Layla O'Kane


Globalization and the diffusion of low-carbon technologies

Paulo Bastos, Jacob Greenspon, Katherine Stapleton & Daria Taglioni

Technology and Global Value Chains: Evidence from Denmark

Friedrich Bergmann & Katherine Stapleton