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Evaluating estimates of materials offshoring from US manufacturing

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

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Feenstra, Robert C. & Jensen, J. Bradford, 2012. "Evaluating estimates of materials offshoring from US manufacturing," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 117(1), pages 170-173.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolet:v:117:y:2012:i:1:p:170-173
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econlet.2012.04.069
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Feenstra, Robert C. & Jensen, J. Bradford, 2012. "Evaluating estimates of materials offshoring from US manufacturing," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 117(1), pages 170-173.
    3. 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.
    4. Susan Houseman & Christopher Kurz & Paul Lengermann & Benjamin Mandel, 2011. "Offshoring Bias in U.S. Manufacturing," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(2), pages 111-132, Spring.
    5. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Peter K. Schott, 2009. "Importers, Exporters and Multinationals: A Portrait of Firms in the U.S. that Trade Goods," NBER Chapters,in: Producer Dynamics: New Evidence from Micro Data, pages 513-552 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. 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.
    7. Robert C. Feenstra, 1996. "U.S. Imports, 1972-1994: Data and Concordances," NBER Working Papers 5515, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Offshoring; Proportionality; Import comparability;

    JEL classification:

    • F1 - International Economics - - Trade

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