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A Theory of Outsourcing and Wage Decline

Author

Listed:
  • Thomas J. Holmes
  • Julia Thornton Snider

Abstract

This paper develops a theory of outsourcing in which the circumstances under which factors of production can grab rents play the leading role. One factor has monopoly power (call this labor) while a second factor does not (call this capital). There are two kinds of production tasks: labor-intensive and capital-intensive. We show that if frictions limiting outsourcing are not too large, in equilibrium labor-intensive tasks are separated from capital-intensive tasks into distinct firms. When a capital-intensive country is opened to free trade, outsourcing increases and labor rents decline. A decrease in outsourcing frictions lowers labor rents. (JEL J31, L22, L24)

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas J. Holmes & Julia Thornton Snider, 2011. "A Theory of Outsourcing and Wage Decline," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 38-59, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmic:v:3:y:2011:i:2:p:38-59
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/mic.3.2.38
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    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/mic.3.2.38
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    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/aej/mic/app/2009-0043_app.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Avinash K. Dixit & Gene M. Grossman, 1982. "Trade and Protection with Multistage Production," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 49(4), pages 583-594.
    2. repec:hrv:faseco:4784031 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Pol Antràs & Luis Garicano & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2006. "Offshoring in a Knowledge Economy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(1), pages 31-77.
    4. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 2005. "Outsourcing in a Global Economy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(1), pages 135-159.
    5. Liao, Wen-Chi, 2010. "Outsourcing and computers: Impact on urban skill level and rent," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(2-3), pages 136-154, May.
    6. Williamson, Oliver E, 1979. "Transaction-Cost Economics: The Governance of Contractural Relations," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(2), pages 233-261, October.
    7. Gene M. Grossman & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2008. "Trading Tasks: A Simple Theory of Offshoring," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 1978-1997, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Bridgman, Benjamin, 2015. "Competition, work rules and productivity," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 136-149.
    2. Carluccio, Juan & Bas, Maria, 2015. "The impact of worker bargaining power on the organization of global firms," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(1), pages 162-181.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure
    • L24 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Contracting Out; Joint Ventures

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