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Breaking Up Is Hard To Do: Why Firms Fragment Production Across Locations

  • Teresa C. Fort

This paper documents the relative importance of labor cost differences, distance to suppliers, and communication technology in a rm's domestic and foreign sourcing decisions. Using an original dataset of U.S. manufacturers' decisions to contract for manufacturing services, I show that domestic fragmentation: i) is far more prevalent than offshoring; ii) changes rms' opportunity cost to offshore; and iii) is facilitated by communication technology. In contrast, communication technology does not necessarily lead rms to offshore. Firms fragment production to access cheaper labor, and countries that offer signifcant labor cost savings tend not to have the technology infrastructure to support high-tech production.

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File URL: ftp://ftp2.census.gov/ces/wp/2013/CES-WP-13-35.pdf
File Function: First version, 2013
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau in its series Working Papers with number 13-35.

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Length: 58 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:13-35
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  1. Robert C. Johnson & Guillermo Noguera, 2012. "Fragmentation and Trade in Value Added over Four Decades," NBER Working Papers 18186, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Russell Hillberry & David Hummels, 2005. "Trade Responses to Geographic Frictions: A Decomposition Using Micro-Data," NBER Working Papers 11339, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. William H. Greene, 2009. "Testing Hypotheses About Interaction Terms in Nonlinear Models," Working Papers 09-08, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
  4. Gene M. Grossman & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2006. "Trading Tasks: A Simple Theory of Offshoring," NBER Working Papers 12721, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Baldwin, Richard & Venables, Anthony J, 2010. "Spiders and Snakes: Offshoring and Agglomeration in the Global Economy," CEPR Discussion Papers 8163, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker Than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116, February.
  7. Michael P. Keane & Susan E. Feinberg, 2006. "Accounting for the Growth of MNC-Based Trade Using a Structural Model of U.S. MNCs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1515-1558, December.
  8. Tomiura, Eiichi, 2007. "Foreign outsourcing, exporting, and FDI: A productivity comparison at the firm level," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 113-127, May.
  9. Robert Feenstra, 2003. "Integration Of Trade And Disintegration Of Production In The Global Economy," Working Papers 986, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  10. Fariha Kamal & Brent R. Moulton & Jennifer Ribarsky, 2013. "Measuring “Factoryless” Manufacturing: Evidence From U.S. Surveys," Working Papers 13-44, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  11. Ai, Chunrong & Norton, Edward C., 2003. "Interaction terms in logit and probit models," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 123-129, July.
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