Using employee-employer matched data, I analyze the impact of a low-wage trade shock on manufacturing workers in a high-wage country, Denmark, and how they adjust to the shock over a decade. I derive causal effects by exploiting the dismantling of the Multifiber Arrangement quotas on products from China upon its WTO accession as a quasi-natural experiment and use within-industry, within-occupation heterogeneity in workers’ exposure to this shock. I find significant negative long-run effects on earnings and employment trajectories and identify job instability in the service sector as a main adjustment friction, concentrated among workers with manufacturing-specific education and occupation. The results establish the importance of specific human capital in trade adjustment and provide evidence of skill upgrading as workers rebuild lost human capital through education.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For a full description of the license, please visit

Supplementary data