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Ariu, Andrea and Mion, Giordano (September 2017): Service Trade and Occupational Tasks. An Empirical Investigation. In: World Economy, Vol. 40, No. 9: pp. 1866-1899

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Using microdata for Belgium, we investigate the relationship between changes in the task content of production and the rise in the number of service exporters. We show that occupational tasks changes display an extremely consistent relationship with participation to service exports: in sectors in which the importance of face‐to‐face communication with customers has increased, the firm‐level likelihood of entering export markets has decreased; instead, the likelihood of exporting increased in sectors in which the sophistication of production and delivery has expanded (following an increase in cognitive tasks). Moreover, our analysis suggests that the change in IT use per se does not strike as being a key underlying force behind the increase in the extensive margin of service exports. These results are robust controlling for comparative advantage, offshoring, trade liberalisation and demand shifts.

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