Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Chambers College of Business and Economics



Committee Chair

Peter Schaeffer

Committee Co-Chair

Shuichiro Nishioka

Committee Member

Arabinda Basistha

Committee Member

Stratford Douglas

Committee Member

Tesfa Gebremedhin

Committee Member

Shuichiro Nishioka.


Differences in labor laws and regulations are believed to have profound effects on the flow of jobs and workers within and across industries. The speed of these flows consequently influence global trade patterns, either negatively or positively. Many countries are reluctant to change existing regulations in their labor market as well as regulations on trade because they believe such changes would have negative implication on their export industries and jobs. This dissertation consists of three essays that look at these issues by examining how labor institutions interact with industry-level factors and their effects on export specialization, trade barriers and employment.;In the first chapter, I examine the type of global specialization patterns that arise as a result of the advantage generated by the flexibility of labor in a country. In particular, I use country-industry pooled data to examine the relationship between industry-specific volatility, labor market flexibility and export specialization. I find that interactions between labor flexibility, industry-specific volatility and industry-level capital intensity play an important role in determining the structure of global export specialization. The second chapter shows that in addition to various industry-level factors that influence protectionism, interactions between labor institutions and industry-specific volatility partially explain changes in tariff levels across industries and countries. Using industry-level data across many countries, and employing the political-economy theory of endogenous-trade protection, I show that industry-specific volatility partially explain average tariffs across industries and countries. The third chapter provides evidence that trade policies effect jobs across less developed countries. Reducing trade barriers lowers unemployment among unskilled workers but increases unemployment for skilled workers. These two effects cancel each other, such that trade policies do not seem to have any effects on the overall unemployment across less developed countries.