Cornell University

International Programs

117 Ives Hall, 607-254-7255

Visiting Fellow Profile

Sigurd Birkeland

BirkelandCountry of Origin:  Norway
Visiting Period:  Fall 2011 -  Spring 2012
Faculty Sponsor:  Lawrence Kahn

Background & Previous Experience:
Birkeland is a PhD student in his third year. During his PhD program,  he has spent a semester in Berlin at the Free University and Humboldt. The rest of his studies have been spent at the Economics Department at the University of Bergen, Norway. Birkeland’s thesis is an empirical application of trade and labor theory, investigation of the impact of globalization on the Norwegian labor market. Within economics, Birkeland is  mainly interested in empirical labor and trade, that is linking theory and microeconometric methodology.

Currently at ILR, Birkeland is working on four papers. The first two papers are concerned with an important characteristic of the globalizing labor market, namely increasingly internationally fragmented production chains. As the production of final goods, and even the production of intermediates, is undertaken at different locations all around the world, workers in Western economies are worried they’ll lose their jobs or experience deteriorating working conditions. Although the intuition behind such a story of harmful offshoring seems reasonable, it is not clear that it must be the case. Obviously, the new organization of production is related to decreasing costs for the producer and hence lower consumer prices, but it is also likely that the cost reductions may translate into increasing overall production. Recent theoretical models within international trade show just how employment and cost saving effects oppose each other, and makes further investigations into the labor market impacts of increasing offshoring or international production fragmentation interesting.  For these two papers, Birkeland is using Norwegian linked employer-employee data with transaction level customs data and firm level accounts data, hoping to better disentangle the effects of offshoring on the labor market.

For his third paper, Birkeland is working on a project where he and a team are trying to estimate the impact of multinational enterprises (MNEs) on the domestic wage distributions, linking this with the gender wage gap. Lastly, for his fourth paper, Birkeland is building a model for sourcing strategies in a heterogeneous firms setup and to test the model empirically. 

Birkeland is very open to discuss problems and topics within and related to labor markets and international trade or globalization and also to discuss possibilities using the Norwegian data that he is in possession of. Please feel free to contact him at the e-mail address above.

- Sigurd Birkeland