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Outsourcing of Services and the Productivity Recovery in U.S. Manufacturing in the 1980s and 1990s


  • Thijs Raa


  • Edward Wolff



Manufacturing productivity growth recovered during the 1980s and 1990s, while other sectors, particularly services, did not. In the same period U.S. manufacturing has engaged in the “outsourcing” or “contracting-out” of service functions. Has the recovery of manufacturing been accomplished by industrial reorganization--sloughing off sluggish services--rather than technical progress? We analyze this question by reducing service inputs to their consituent elements of material inputs. Service productivity growth is thus imputed to the goods sectors, reducing the recovery of manufacturing productivity growth in the 1980s by one fifth. The recovery lasted through the 1990s, when high productivity performers in manufacturing have been relatively successful at outsourcing sluggishservices. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Suggested Citation

  • Thijs Raa & Edward Wolff, 2001. "Outsourcing of Services and the Productivity Recovery in U.S. Manufacturing in the 1980s and 1990s," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 16(2), pages 149-165, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jproda:v:16:y:2001:i:2:p:149-165
    DOI: 10.1023/A:1011683310955

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Postner, Harry H, 1990. "The Contracting-Out Problem in Service Sector Analysis: Choice of Statistical Unit," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 36(2), pages 177-186, June.
    2. George J. Stigler, 1951. "The Division of Labor is Limited by the Extent of the Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59, pages 185-185.
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    Cited by:

    1. Fuster García, Begoña & Martínez Mora, Carmen, 2013. "Offshoring of Services in Spain: International Fragmentation of Activities or Change in Procurement Sources?/Offshoring de Servicios en España: ¿Fragmentación internacional de actividades o cambio en ," Estudios de Economía Aplicada, Estudios de Economía Aplicada, vol. 31, pages 655-676, Septiembr.
    2. 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.
    3. Roberto Antonietti, 2016. "From outsourcing to productivity, passing through training: microeconometric evidence from Italy," Industry and Innovation, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(5), pages 407-425, July.
    4. Giuseppe Berlingieri, 2013. "Outsourcing and the Rise in Services," CEP Discussion Papers dp1199, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    5. Mary Amiti & Shang-Jin Wei, 2009. "Service Offshoring and Productivity: Evidence from the US," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 32(2), pages 203-220, February.
    6. Robert E. Yuskavage & Erich H. Strassner & Gabriel W. Medeiros, 2008. "Domestic Outsourcing and Imported Inputs in the U.s. Economy: Insights from Integrated Economic Accounts," BEA Papers 0090, Bureau of Economic Analysis.
    7. Martin Falk, 2012. "International Outsourcing and Productivity Growth," Review of Economics and Institutions, Università di Perugia, vol. 3(1).
    8. Simon C. Parker, 2010. "Contracting Out, Public Policy And Entrepreneurship," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 57(2), pages 119-144, May.
    9. repec:aoj:ajeaer:2017:p:121-131 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Ohnemus, Jörg, 2009. "Productivity effects of business process outsourcing: a firm-level investigation based on panel data," ZEW Discussion Papers 09-088, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    11. Kiyoyasu Tanaka, 2009. "Producer Services and Manufacturing Productivity: Evidence from Japan Industrial Productivity Database," Global COE Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series gd09-076, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    12. Ohnemus, Jörg, 2007. "Does IT Outsourcing Increase Firm Success? An Empirical Assessment using Firm-Level Data," ZEW Discussion Papers 07-087, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.

    More about this item


    productivity; services; outsourcing;

    JEL classification:

    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence


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