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How Many US Jobs Might be Offshorable?

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  • Alan S. Blinder

Abstract

Using detailed information on the nature of work done in over 800 US Bureau of Labor Statistics occupational codes, this paper ranks those occupations according to how easy/hard it is to offshore the work – either physically or electronically. Using this ranking, it is estimated that somewhere between 22% and 29% of all US jobs are or will be potentially offshorable within a decade or two. (No estimate is made of how many jobs will actually be offshored.) Since the rankings are subjective, two alternatives are presented – one is entirely objective, the other is an independent subjective ranking. In general, they corroborate the rankings, albeit not perfectly. It is found that there is little or no correlation between an occupation’s ‘offshorability’ and the skill level of its workers (as measured either by educational attainment or wages). However, it appears that, controlling for education, the most highly offshorable occupations were already paying significantly lower wages in 2004.

Suggested Citation

  • Alan S. Blinder, 2009. "How Many US Jobs Might be Offshorable?," World Economics, World Economics, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 10(2), pages 41-78, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:wej:wldecn:376
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David H. Autor & Frank Levy & Richard J. Murnane, 2003. "The skill content of recent technological change: an empirical exploration," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
    2. Gregory Mankiw, N. & Swagel, Phillip, 2006. "The politics and economics of offshore outsourcing," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(5), pages 1027-1056, July.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L24 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Contracting Out; Joint Ventures
    • M55 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Labor Contracting Devices

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