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Is an Integrated Regional Labor Market Emergin in East and Southeast Asia?

By David E. Bloom and Waseen Noor

Abstract

We examine labor market integration in east and southeast Asia (ESEA) during the 1980s, focusing on intraregional labor mobility and on the two other main channels of integration: capital mobility and trade. We find evidence that labor market integration increased sharply among ESEA countries in the 1980s, with 9 percent of ESEA's labor force participating either directly via labor mobility or indirectly via capital mobility or trade in cross-national labor market transactions in 1991, up from just 5.2 percent in 1980. We also find that trade is the dominant mechanism through which regional labor market integration occurred in the 1980s, with labor migration contributing only modestly to the process.

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