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Does Outsourcing Reduce Wages in the Low-Wage Service Occupations? Evidence from Janitors and Guards

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  • Arindrajit Dube
  • Ethan Kaplan

Abstract

Outsourcing of labor services grew substantially during the 1980s and 1990s and was associated with lower wages, fewer benefits, and lower rates of unionization. The authors focus on two occupations for which they can identify outsourcing in those two decades using industry and occupation codes: janitors and guards. Across a wide array of specifications, they find that the outsourcing wage penalty ranged from 4% to 7% for janitors and from 8% to 24% for guards. Their findings on health benefits mirror those on wages. Evidence suggests that the outsourcing penalty was not due to compensating differentials for higher benefits or lower hours, skill differences, or the types of industries that outsourced. Rather, outsourcing seems to have reduced labor market rents for workers, especially for those in the upper half of the occupational wage distribution. Industries with higher historical wage premia were more likely to outsource service work.

Suggested Citation

  • Arindrajit Dube & Ethan Kaplan, 2010. "Does Outsourcing Reduce Wages in the Low-Wage Service Occupations? Evidence from Janitors and Guards," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 63(2), pages 287-306, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:ilrrev:v:63:y:2010:i:2:p:287-306
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    Cited by:

    1. Drenik, Andres & Jäger, Simon & Plotkin, Pascuel & Schoefer, Benjamin, 2020. "Paying Outsourced Labor: Direct Evidence from Linked Temp Agency-Worker-Client Data," CEPR Discussion Papers 14517, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Jonas Hjort & Xuan Li & Heather Sarsons, 2020. "Across-Country Wage Compression in Multinationals," NBER Working Papers 26788, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Deborah Goldschmidt & Johannes F. Schmieder, 2017. "The Rise of Domestic Outsourcing and the Evolution of the German Wage Structure," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 132(3), pages 1165-1217.
    4. Elizabeth Weber Handwerker & James R. Spletzer, 2016. "The Role of Establishments and the Concentration of Occupations in Wage Inequality," Research in Labor Economics, in: Lorenzo Cappellari & Solomon W. Polachek & Konstantinos Tatsiramos (ed.), Inequality: Causes and Consequences, volume 43, pages 167-193, Emerald Publishing Ltd.
    5. Katharine Abraham & John Haltiwanger & Kristin Sandusky & James Spletzer, 2017. "Measuring the Gig Economy: Current Knowledge and Open Issues," NBER Chapters, in: Measuring and Accounting for Innovation in the Twenty-First Century, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. David Card & Jörg Heining & Patrick Kline, 2013. "Workplace Heterogeneity and the Rise of West German Wage Inequality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(3), pages 967-1015.
    7. Alexandre Mas & Amanda Pallais, 2019. "Alternative Work Arrangements," Working Papers 634, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    8. Matthias Umkehrer, 2019. "The impact of declining youth employment stability on future wages," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 56(2), pages 619-650, February.
    9. David Autor & David Dorn & Lawrence F. Katz & Christina Patterson & John Van Reenen, 2017. "The Fall of the Labor Share and the Rise of Superstar Firms," CEP Discussion Papers dp1482, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    10. Steven Berry & Martin Gaynor & Fiona Scott Morton, 2019. "Do Increasing Markups Matter? Lessons from Empirical Industrial Organization," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 33(3), pages 44-68, Summer.
    11. Pedro S. Martins, 2016. "The third worker: Assessing the trade-off between employees and contractors," Working Papers 75, Queen Mary, University of London, School of Business and Management, Centre for Globalisation Research.
    12. Basu, Arnab K. & Chau, Nancy H. & Soundararajan, Vidhya, 2019. "Wage fairness in a subcontracted labor market," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 168(C), pages 24-42.
    13. Fouksman, E. & Klein, E., 2019. "Radical transformation or technological intervention? Two paths for universal basic income," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 122(C), pages 492-500.
    14. Lawrence F. Katz & Alan B. Krueger, 2016. "The Rise and Nature of Alternative Work Arrangements in the United States, 1995-2015," Working Papers 603, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    15. Bernhardt, Annette & Batt, Rosemary & Houseman, Susan & Appelbaum, Eileen, 2016. "Domestic Outsourcing in the U.S.: A Research Agenda to Assess Trends and Effects on Job Quality," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt2fm4m444, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
    16. Adrian Peralta-Alva & Agustin Roitman, 2018. "Technology and the Future of Work," IMF Working Papers 18/207, International Monetary Fund.
    17. Bjarke Refslund & Annette Thörnquist, 2016. "Intra-European labour migration and low-wage competition—comparing the Danish and Swedish experiences across three sectors," Industrial Relations Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 62-78, January.
    18. Cortes, Guido Matias & Salvatori, Andrea, 2019. "Delving into the demand side: Changes in workplace specialization and job polarization," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 164-176.
    19. Sasan Bakhtiari, 2011. "Efficiency and Outsourcing: Evidence from Australian Manufacturing," Discussion Papers 2012-07, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.
    20. Umkehrer, Matthias, 2015. "The impact of changing youth employment patterns on future wages," IAB Discussion Paper 201531, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].
    21. Hjort, Jonas & Li, Xuan & Sarsons, Heather, 2020. "Across-Country Wage Compression in Multinationals," CEPR Discussion Papers 14465, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    22. Gauti Eggertsson & Jacob Robbins, 2018. "Kaldor and Piketty's Facts: the Rise of Monopoly Power in the United States," 2018 Meeting Papers 77, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    23. Annette Bernhardt & Rosemary L. Batt & Susan Houseman & Eileen Appelbaum, 2016. "Domestic Outsourcing in the United States: A Research Agenda to Assess Trends and Effects on Job Quality," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 16-253, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    24. Carlos Alberto Belchior Doria Carneiro & Geovana Lorena Bertussi, 2018. "Outsourcing And Efficiency Wages: The Case Of Brazil," Anais do XLIV Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 44th Brazilian Economics Meeting] 233, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pós-Graduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
    25. Ochsenfeld, Fabian, 2018. "The Relational Nature of Employment Dualization: Evidence from Subcontracting Establishments," SocArXiv ta4r6, Center for Open Science.

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