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Outsourcing at Will: The Contribution of Unjust Dismissal Doctrine to the Growth of Employment Outsourcing

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  • David H. Autor

    (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the National Bureau of Economic Research)

Abstract

Over the past 3 decades, the U.S. Temporary Help Services (THS) industry grew five times more rapidly than overall employment. Contemporaneously, courts in 46 states adopted exceptions to the common law doctrine of employment at will that limited employers' discretion to terminate workers and opened them to litigation. This article assesses the contribution of "unjust dismissal" doctrine to THS employment specifically, and outsourcing more generally, finding that it is substantialexplaining 20% of the growth of THS between 1973 and 1995 and contributing 500,000 additional outsourced workers in 2000. States with smaller declines in unionization also saw substantially more THS growth.

Suggested Citation

  • David H. Autor, 2003. "Outsourcing at Will: The Contribution of Unjust Dismissal Doctrine to the Growth of Employment Outsourcing," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(1), pages 1-42, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlabec:v:21:y:2003:i:1:p:1-42
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Alan B. Krueger, 1991. "The Evolution of Unjust-Dismissal Legislation in the United States," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 44(4), pages 644-660, July.
    2. Daron Acemoglu & Joshua D. Angrist, 2001. "Consequences of Employment Protection? The Case of the Americans with Disabilities Act," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(5), pages 915-957, October.
    3. Pedro Portugal & Olivier Blanchard, 2001. "What Hides Behind an Unemployment Rate: Comparing Portuguese and U.S. Labor Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 187-207, March.
    4. Donohue, John J, III & Heckman, James, 1991. "Continuous versus Episodic Change: The Impact of Civil Rights Policy on the Economic Status of Blacks," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 29(4), pages 1603-1643, December.
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