Upstreamness, social upgrading and gender: Equal benefits for all?

Working Paper N° 359

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This paper examines social upgrading related to firms’ participation in Global Value Chains (GVCs) from a developed countries’ perspective. Merging detailed matched employer-employee data relative to the Belgian manufacturing industry with unique information on firm-level upstreamness, we investigate whether workers on the upstream stage of GVCs benefit from higher wages. We also enrich our analysis with a gender dimension. Unconditional quantile regressions and decomposition methods reveal that firms’ upstreamness fosters workers’ social upgrading. Nevertheless, gains are found to be unequally shared among workers. Male top-earners are the main beneficiaries; whereas women, irrespective of their earnings, appear to be unfairly rewarded.