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Foreign Investment, Outsourcing and Relative Wages

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  • Robert C. Feenstra
  • Gordon H. Hanson

Abstract

In this paper we examine the reduction in the relative employment and wages of unskilled workers in the U.S. during the 1980's. We argue that a contributing factor to this decline was rising imports reflecting the outsourcing of production activities. In a theoretical model, we show that any increase in the Southern capital stock relative to that of the North, or neutral technological progress in the South, will increase the relative wage of skilled workers in both countries due to a shift in production activities to the South. Corresponding to this change in the relative wage is an increase in the price index of Northern activities within each industry, relative to that of the South. We confirm that this change in relative prices occurred for the U.S. and other industrialized countries relative to their trading partners. We also estimate that 15-33% of the increase in the relative wage of nonproduction (or skilled) workers in the U.S. during the 1980's is explained by rising imports.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5121.

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Date of creation: May 1995
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5121

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  1. E. Berman & J. Bound & S. Machin, 1997. "Implications of skill-biased technological change: international evidence," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20314, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. George J. Borjas & Richard B. Freeman & Lawrence F. Katz, 1992. "On the Labor Market Effects of Immigration and Trade," NBER Chapters, in: Immigration and the Workforce: Economic Consequences for the United States and Source Areas, pages 213-244 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Dornbusch, Rudiger & Fischer, Stanley & Samuelson, Paul A, 1980. "Heckscher- Ohlin Trade Theory with a Continuum of Goods," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 95(2), pages 203-24, September.
  4. Edward E. Leamer, 1994. "Trade, Wages and Revolving Door Ideas," NBER Working Papers 4716, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Jagdish Bhagwati, 1995. "Trade and wages: choosing among alternative explanations," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Jan, pages 42-47.
  6. Robert C. Feenstra & Gordon H. Hanson, 1995. "Foreign Direct Investment and Relative Wages: Evidence from Mexico's Maquiladoras," NBER Working Papers 5122, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Bernard, A.B. & Jensen, J.B., 1994. "Exporters, Skill Upgrading, and the Wage Gap," Working papers 94-30, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  8. Jeffrey D. Sachs & Howard J. Shatz, 1994. "Trade and Jobs in Manufacturing," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 25(1), pages 1-84.
  9. Paul Krugman & Robert Lawrence, 1993. "Trade, Jobs, and Wages," NBER Working Papers 4478, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Edward E. Leamer, 1992. "Wage Effects of A U.S. - Mexican Free Trade Agreement," NBER Working Papers 3991, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. John M. Abowd & Richard B. Freeman, 1991. "Immigration, Trade and the Labor Market," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number abow91-1, October.
  12. Berman, Eli & Bound, John & Griliches, Zvi, 1994. "Changes in the Demand for Skilled Labor within U.S. Manufacturing: Evidence from the Annual Survey of Manufactures," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(2), pages 367-97, May.
  13. Robert Z Lawrence, 1994. "Trade, Multinationals and Labour," RBA Annual Conference Volume, in: Philip Lowe & Jacqueline Dwyer (ed.), International Intergration of the Australian Economy Reserve Bank of Australia.
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