Globalization, Outsourcing, and Wage Inequality

13 Pages Posted: 2 Sep 2000

See all articles by Robert C. Feenstra

Robert C. Feenstra

University of California, Davis - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Gordon H. Hanson

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IRPS); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: January 1996

Abstract

There is considerable debate over whether international trade has contributed to the declining economic fortunes of less skilled workers. One issue that has become lost in the current discussion is how firms respond to import competition and how these responses, in turn, are transmitted to the labor market. In previous work, we have argued that outsourcing, by which we mean the import of intermediate inputs by domestic firms, has contributed to an increase in the relative demand for skilled labor in the United States. If firms respond to import competition from low-wage countries by moving non- skill-intensive activities abroad, then trade will shift employment towards skilled workers within industries. In this paper, we extend our previous work by combining new import data from the revised NBER trade database with disaggregated data on input purchases from the Census of Manufactures. We construct industry-by-industry estimates of outsourcing for the period 1972-1990 and reexamine whether outsourcing has contributed to an increase in relative demand for skilled labor. Our main finding is that outsourcing can account for 31-51% of the increase in the relative demand for skilled labor that occurred in U.S. manufacturing industries during the 1980s, compared to our previous estimate of 15-33%.

Suggested Citation

Feenstra, Robert C. and Hanson, Gordon H., Globalization, Outsourcing, and Wage Inequality (January 1996). NBER Working Paper No. w5424. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=225484

Robert C. Feenstra (Contact Author)

University of California, Davis - Department of Economics ( email )

One Shields Drive
Davis, CA 95616-8578
United States
916-752-9240 (Phone)
916-752-9382 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Gordon H. Hanson

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IRPS) ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0519
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
300
Abstract Views
8,065
rank
99,421
PlumX Metrics