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Trading Tasks: A Simple Theory of Offshoring

  • Gene M. Grossman
  • Esteban Rossi-Hansberg

We propose a theory of the global production process that focuses on tradeable tasks, and use it to study how falling costs of offshoring affect factor prices in the source country. We identify a productivity effect of task trade that benefits the factor whose tasks are more easily moved offshore. In the light of this effect, reductions in the cost of trading tasks can generate shared gains for all domestic factors, in contrast to the distributional conflict that typically results from reductions in the cost of trading goods. (JEL F11, F16)

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.98.5.1978
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 98 (2008)
Issue (Month): 5 (December)
Pages: 1978-97

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:98:y:2008:i:5:p:1978-97
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.98.5.1978
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  1. Kei-Mu Yi, 2000. "Can vertical specialization explain the growth of world trade?," Staff Reports 96, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  2. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 2002. "Managerial Incentives and the International Organization of Production," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1987, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  3. Marin, Dalia & Verdier, Thierry, 2012. "Globalization and the empowerment of talent," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(2), pages 209-223.
  4. Edward E Leamer & Michael Storper, 2001. "The Economic Geography of the Internet Age," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 32(4), pages 641-665, December.
  5. Antras, Pol, 2003. "Firms, Contracts, and Trade Structure," Scholarly Articles 3196328, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  6. David L. Hummels & Jun Ishii & Kei-Mu Yi, 1999. "The nature and growth of vertical specialization in world trade," Staff Reports 72, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  7. Pol Antras & Luis Garicano & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2005. "Offshoring in a Knowledge Economy," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2067, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  8. Jose Campa & Linda S. Goldberg, 1997. "The Evolving External Orientation of Manufacturing Industries: Evidence from Four Countries," NBER Working Papers 5919, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Feenstra, R.C. & Hanson, G.H., 1995. "Foreign Investment, Outsourcing and Relative Wages," Department of Economics 95-14, California Davis - Department of Economics.
  10. Wolfgang F. Stolper & Paul A. Samuelson, 1941. "Protection and Real Wages," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(1), pages 58-73.
  11. Antras, Pol & Helpman, Elhanan, 2004. "Global Sourcing," Scholarly Articles 3196327, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  12. Wilhelm Kohler, 2004. "Aspects of International Fragmentation," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(5), pages 793-816, November.
  13. Krugman, Paul R., 2000. "Technology, trade and factor prices," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 51-71, February.
  14. Deardorff, Alan V., 2001. "Fragmentation in simple trade models," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 121-137, July.
  15. repec:hrv:faseco:4784031 is not listed on IDEAS
  16. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 2005. "Outsourcing in a Global Economy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(1), pages 135-159.
  17. Marin, Dalia & Verdier, Thierry, 2002. "Globalization and the 'New Enterprise'," Discussion Papers in Economics 11, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  18. David H. Autor & Frank Levy & Richard J. Murnane, 2003. "The skill content of recent technological change: an empirical exploration," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
  19. David L. Hummels & Dana Rapoport & Kei-Mu Yi, 1998. "Vertical specialization and the changing nature of world trade," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Jun, pages 79-99.
  20. repec:hrv:faseco:4784029 is not listed on IDEAS
  21. Edward E. Leamer, 1996. "What's the Use of Factor Contents?," NBER Working Papers 5448, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Gordon H. Hanson & Raymond J. Mataloni & Matthew J. Slaughter, 2003. "Vertical Production Networks in Multinational Firms," NBER Working Papers 9723, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Gordon H. Hanson & Raymond J. Mataloni & Matthew J. Slaughter, 2001. "Expansion Strategies of U.S. Multinational Firms," BEA Papers 0012, Bureau of Economic Analysis.
  24. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 2002. "Integration versus Outsourcing in Industry Equilibrium," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(1), pages 85-120.
  25. Deardorff, A.V., 1998. "Fragmentation Across Cones," Papers 98-14, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
  26. Trefler, Daniel, 1995. "The Case of the Missing Trade and Other Mysteries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1029-46, December.
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