IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Can Deunionization Lead to International Outsourcing?

  • Lommerud, Kjell Erik
  • Meland, Frode
  • Straume, Odd Rune

We analyze unionized firms’ incentives to outsource intermediate goods production to foreign (low-cost) subcontractors. Such outsourcing leads to increased wages for the remaining in-house production. We find that stronger unions, which imply higher domestic wages, reduce incentives for international outsourcing. Though somewhat surprising, this result provides a theoretical conciliation of the empirically observed trends of deunionization and increased international outsourcing in many countries. We further show that globalization - interpreted as either market integration or increased product market competition - will increase incentives for international outsourcing.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6998.

in new window

Date of creation: Oct 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6998
Contact details of provider: Postal: Centre for Economic Policy Research, 77 Bastwick Street, London EC1V 3PZ.
Phone: 44 - 20 - 7183 8801
Fax: 44 - 20 - 7183 8820

Order Information: Email:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. James R. Markusen, 1995. "The Boundaries of Multinational Enterprises and the Theory of International Trade," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 169-189, Spring.
  2. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 2002. "Outsourcing versus FDI in Industry Equilibrium?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1965, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  3. Blanchard, Olivier J & Giavazzi, Francesco, 2001. "Macroeconomic Effects of Regulation and Deregulation in Goods and Labour Markets," CEPR Discussion Papers 2713, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. David Thesmar & Mathias Thoenig, 2007. "From Flexibility to Insecurity: How Vertical Separation Amplifies Firm-level Uncertainty," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 5(6), pages 1161-1202, December.
  5. Antràs, Pol & Helpman, Elhanan, 2004. "Global Sourcing," CEPR Discussion Papers 4170, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Glass, Amy Jocelyn & Saggi, Kamal, 2001. "Innovation and wage effects of international outsourcing," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 67-86, January.
  7. Helpman, Elhanan, 1981. "International trade in the presence of product differentiation, economies of scale and monopolistic competition : A Chamberlin-Heckscher-Ohlin approach," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 305-340, August.
  8. Lommerud, Kjell Erik & Meland, Frode & Straume, Odd Rune, 2005. "Globalisation and union opposition to technological change," Working Papers in Economics 01/05, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
  9. Wilhelm Kohler, 2004. "International outsourcing and factor prices with multistage production," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(494), pages C166-C185, 03.
  10. Hijzen, Alexander & Görg, Holger & Hine, Robert C., 2004. "International Outsourcing and the Skill Structure of Labour Demand in the United Kingdom," IZA Discussion Papers 1249, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 2005. "Outsourcing in a Global Economy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(1), pages 135-159.
  12. repec:hrv:faseco:4784031 is not listed on IDEAS
  13. Mary Amiti & Shang-Jin Wei, 2004. "Fear of Service Outsourcing: Is It Justified?," IMF Working Papers 04/186, International Monetary Fund.
  14. Naylor, Robin, 1997. "Union Wage Strategies and International Trade," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 480, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  15. Chen, Yongmin & Ishikawa, Jota & Yu, Zhihao, 2001. "Trade Liberalization and Strategic Outsourcing," Discussion Papers 2001-04, Graduate School of Economics, Hitotsubashi University.
  16. Bruce R. Lyons & Khalid Sekkat, 1991. "Strategic bargaining and vertical separation," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/7322, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  17. Robert C. Feenstra & Gordon H. Hanson, 1999. "The Impact Of Outsourcing And High-Technology Capital On Wages: Estimates For The United States, 1979-1990," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 907-940, August.
  18. Krugman, Paul, 1980. "Scale Economies, Product Differentiation, and the Pattern of Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(5), pages 950-59, December.
  19. Stephen Machin, 2000. "Union Decline in Britain," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 38(4), pages 631-645, December.
  20. Kjell Erik Lommerud & Odd Rune Straume & Lars Sørgard, 2006. "National versus international mergers in unionized oligopoly," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 37(1), pages 212-233, 03.
  21. Gene M. Grossman & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2006. "Trading Tasks: A Simple Theory of Offshoring," NBER Working Papers 12721, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Esteban Rossi-Hansberg & Pol Antras & Luis Garicano, 2005. "Offshoring in a Knowledge Economy," 2005 Meeting Papers 196, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  23. Alexander Hijzen & Paul Swaim, . "Does offshoring reduce industry employment?," Discussion Papers 07/24, University of Nottingham, GEP.
  24. Gene M. Grossman & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2006. "The rise of offshoring: it's not wine for cloth anymore," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 59-102.
  25. Dasgupta, Partha & Stiglitz, Joseph, 1980. "Industrial Structure and the Nature of Innovative Activity," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 90(358), pages 266-93, June.
  26. Kjell Erik Lommerud & Frode Meland & Lars Sørgard, 2002. "Unionized Oligopoly, Trade Liberalization and Location Choice," CESifo Working Paper Series 777, CESifo Group Munich.
  27. Robert W. Staiger, 1988. "Organized Labor and the Scope of International Specialization," NBER Working Papers 2514, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  28. Manning, Alan, 1987. "An Integration of Trade Union Models in a Sequential Bargaining Framework," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 97(385), pages 121-39, March.
  29. Oz Shy & Rune Stenbacka, 2005. "Partial outsourcing, monitoring cost, and market structure," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 38(4), pages 1173-1190, November.
  30. repec:hrv:faseco:4784029 is not listed on IDEAS
  31. Krugman, Paul R., 1979. "Increasing returns, monopolistic competition, and international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 469-479, November.
  32. Horn, Henrik & Wolinsky, Asher, 1988. "Worker Substitutability and Patterns of Unionisation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 98(391), pages 484-97, June.
  33. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 2002. "Integration Versus Outsourcing In Industry Equilibrium," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(1), pages 85-120, February.
  34. Naylor, Robin, 1998. "International trade and economic integration when labour markets are generally unionised," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(7), pages 1251-1267, July.
  35. Dowrick, Steve & Spencer, Barbara J, 1994. "Union Attitudes to Labor-Saving Innovation: When Are Unions Luddites?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(2), pages 316-44, April.
  36. Mine Zeynep Senses, 2006. "The Effects of Outsourcing on the Elasticity of Labor Demand," Working Papers 06-07, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  37. Skaksen, Mette Yde & Sorensen, Jan Rose, 2001. "Should trade unions appreciate foreign direct investment," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 379-390, December.
  38. Zhao, Laixun, 2001. "Unionization, vertical markets, and the outsourcing of multinationals," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 187-202, October.
  39. Jay Pil Choi & Carl Davidson, 2004. "Strategic Second Sourcing by Multinationals," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(2), pages 579-600, 05.
  40. Amiti, Mary & Wei, Shang-Jin, 2006. "Service Offshoring, Productivity and Employment: Evidence from the US," CEPR Discussion Papers 5475, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  41. Shy, Oz & Stenbacka, Rune, 2003. "Strategic outsourcing," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 203-224, February.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6998. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.