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Evaluating estimates of materials offshoring from US manufacturing

  • Feenstra, Robert C.
  • Jensen, J. Bradford

When materials offshoring is measured by estimating imported intermediate inputs, a common assumption used is that an industry’s imports of each input, relative to its total demand, is the same as the economy-wide imports relative to total demand: this is the so-called “import comparability” or “proportionality” assumption. A report to the National Research Council identified this assumption as being a significant limitation of current data collection and analysis. In this note we move beyond this assumption to obtain a direct measure of imported materials by industry for the United States in 1997. At the 3-digit I–O industry level, there is a correlation of 0.68 between the offshoring shares made with and without the proportionality assumption, and a higher correlation of 0.87 when the shares are value weighted. While most value-weighted industries have differences below 50 percentage points in the two estimates, there are a significant number of cases that differ by 10 percentage points or more.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Economics Letters.

Volume (Year): 117 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 170-173

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolet:v:117:y:2012:i:1:p:170-173
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/ecolet

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  1. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Peter K. Schott, 2005. "Importers, Exporters, and Multinationals: A Portrait of Firms in the U.S. that Trade Goods," NBER Working Papers 11404, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Robert C. Feenstra & John Romalis & Peter K. Schott, 2002. "U.S. Imports, Exports, and Tariff Data, 1989-2001," NBER Working Papers 9387, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Susan N. Houseman & Christopher Kurz & Paul Lengermann & Benjamin Mandel, . "Offshoring Bias in U.S. Manufacturing," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles snh20112, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  4. Puzzello, Laura, 2012. "A proportionality assumption and measurement biases in the factor content of trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 105-111.
  5. Deborah Winkler, William Milberg, 2009. "WP 2009-12 Errors from the “Proportionality Assumption” in the Measurement of Offshoring: Application to German Labor Demand," SCEPA working paper series. SCEPA's main areas of research are macroeconomic policy, inequality and poverty, and globalization. 2009-12, Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis (SCEPA), The New School.
  6. Robert C. Feenstra, 1996. "U.S. Imports, 1972-1994: Data and Concordances," NBER Working Papers 5515, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Robert C. Feenstra & J. Bradford Jensen, 2012. "Evaluating Estimates of Materials Offshoring from U.S. Manufacturing," NBER Working Papers 17916, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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