Title: How globalisation affects Singapore's unit labour costs in the manufacturing sector

Authors: Ryan Joel Thomasz; Jeremy Chua Kun Da; Melissa Lim Jie Yi; Soon Beng Chew

Addresses: Division of Economics, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore ' Division of Economics, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore ' Division of Economics, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore ' Division of Economics, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Abstract: Given the scale of how globalisation has transformed our industries, it was imperative for us to explore if success in interconnected markets rely solely on sustaining low unit labour costs (ULC). While low ULCs are conventionally equated with constrained wage growth for workers and high labour productivities, we conducted a novel estimation study that encompasses ULC's primary determinants - real remuneration growth, capital intensity growth and total factor productivity (TFP) growth - in assessing cost competitiveness. Our findings of Singapore's manufacturing sector up to the two-digit level revealed that cost competitiveness can be maintained if increases in real wages are offset by proportionate increases in capital intensity and TFP. The results reaffirm the conclusions of Ordóñez and his colleagues (2015) and provide empirical evidence for Singapore's on-going effort to restructure her economy. Hence, an economy primarily needs to be manpower-lean, more capital-intensive and foster high TFP growth to compete more effectively.

Keywords: globalisation; unit labour costs; ULC; cost competitiveness; remuneration; capital intensity; total factor productivity growth; TFPG.

DOI: 10.1504/IJBG.2018.088660

International Journal of Business and Globalisation, 2018 Vol.20 No.1, pp.1 - 17

Received: 17 Jun 2016
Accepted: 17 Jun 2016

Published online: 05 Dec 2017 *

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