In this paper we report evidence on the relationship between trade openness, technology adoption and the relative demand for skilled labour in the Turkish manufacturing sector, using firm-level data over the period 1980–2001. In a dynamic panel data setting, using a unique database comprising data from 17,462 firms, we estimate an augmented cost share equation whereby the wage bill share of skilled workers in a given firm is related to international exposure and technology adoption. It emerges that R&D expenditures are positive and significantly related to skill upgrading. This result supports the skill-biased technological change argument in the case of a middle-income country such as Turkey. Moreover, the firm-level analysis reveals a positive impact of technological transfer from abroad, foreign ownership and exporting status on the demand for skills, highlighting the role of increasing international openness in fostering skill upgrading within firms. Our microdata also allow us to investigate the direct impact of import flows in shaping the relative demand for skills. The results show that those firms belonging to the sectors experiencing rapid increase in the share of inputs imported from industrialised countries also experience a higher increase in the labour cost share of skilled workers. This finding provides further support for the hypothesis that imports from industrialised countries imply a transfer of new technologies, in turn leading to a higher demand for skilled labour (the so-called skill-enhancing trade hypothesis).
- Panel data
- Technology transfer