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A Bird’s Eye View of International Outsourcing: Data, Measurement and Labour Demand Effects


  • Alexander Hijzen


This paper takes stock of the rapidly expanding literature on international outsourcing. The first part of the paper discusses the appropriateness of different data sources and measures that may be used to document the extent of international outsourcing. In the author’s view, input-output tables are to be preferred in most cases, although it is acknowledged that the choice of data and measurement ultimately rests on the specific question at hand. The issues are illustrated using input-output data for the United Kingdom, for the period 1974-1995. The second part of the paper concentrates on the labour-demand effects of international outsourcing. It starts off by describing the basic methodology and subsequently reviews the empirical evidence for a number of industrialised countries. The author concentrates specifically on the impact of international outsourcing on the skill structure of labour demand. While it may be expected that all types of labour suffer from outsourcing, most studies find that unskilled workers bear most of the burden.

Suggested Citation

  • Alexander Hijzen, 2005. "A Bird’s Eye View of International Outsourcing: Data, Measurement and Labour Demand Effects," Economie Internationale, CEPII research center, issue 104, pages 45-63.
  • Handle: RePEc:cii:cepiei:2005-4tc

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Amador, João & Cabral, Sónia, 2008. "International fragmentation of production in the Portuguese economy: What do different measures tell us?," MPRA Paper 9783, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Amador, João & Cabral, Sónia, 2009. "Vertical specialization across the world: A relative measure," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 267-280, December.
    3. Rosario Crinò, 2012. "Service Offshoring and the Skill Composition of Labour Demand," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 74(1), pages 20-57, February.
    4. Rosario Crinò, 2007. "Offshoring, Multinationals and Labor Market: A Review of the Empirical Literature," KITeS Working Papers 196, KITeS, Centre for Knowledge, Internationalization and Technology Studies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy, revised Jan 2007.
    5. Amador, João & Cabral, Sónia, 2014. "Global value chains: surveying drivers and measures," Working Paper Series 1739, European Central Bank.
    6. Bernhard Michel & François Rycx, 2012. "Does offshoring of materials and business services affect employment? Evidence from a small open economy," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(2), pages 229-251, January.
    7. Cosimo Beverelli & Kornel Mahlstein, 2011. "Outsourcing and Competition Policy," Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 131-147, June.
    8. Heyman Fredrik & Tingvall Patrik Gustavsson, 2015. "The Dynamics of Offshoring and Institutions," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 15(4), pages 1975-2016, October.
    9. Sotiris Blanas, 2017. "Offshoring and the Age-Skill Composition of Labour Demand," Working Papers 209919378, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.
    10. Anna M. Falzoni & Lucia Tajoli, 2011. "Offshoring and the Skill Composition of Employment in the Italian Manufacturing Industries," Rivista di Politica Economica, SIPI Spa, issue 1, pages 121-153, January-M.
    11. João Amador & Sónia Cabral, 2014. "Global Value Chains: Surveying Drivers, Measures and Impacts," Working Papers w201403, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
    12. Crinò, Rosario, 2012. "Imported inputs and skill upgrading," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(6), pages 957-969.

    More about this item


    Outsourcing; Fragmentation; Trade; Labour Demand; Wages;

    JEL classification:

    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials


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