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The impact of contract enforcement costs onoutsourcing and aggregate productivity

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  • Boehm, Johannes

Abstract

Legal institutions affect economic outcomes, but how much? This paper documents how costly supplier contract enforcement shapes firm boundaries, and quantifies the impact of this transaction cost on aggregate productivity and welfare. I embed a contracting game between a buyer and a supplier in a general-equilibrium model. Contract enforcement costs lead suppliers to under produce. Thus, firms will perform more of the production process in-house instead of outsourcing it. On a macroeconomic scale, in countries with slow and costly courts, firms should buy relatively less inputs from sectors whose products are more specific to the buyer-seller relationship. I present reduced-form evidence for this hypothesis using a novel measure of relationship-specificity, which I construct from microdata on US case law. I then structurally estimate my model, and perform welfare counterfactuals. Setting enforcement costs to US levels would increase real income by an average of 7.5 percent across all countries, and by an average of 15.3 percent across low-income countries. Hence, transaction costs and the determinants of firm boundaries are important for countries' aggregate level of development.

Suggested Citation

  • Boehm, Johannes, 2015. "The impact of contract enforcement costs onoutsourcing and aggregate productivity," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 64997, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:64997
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Christopher Hansman & Jonas Hjort & Gianmarco León & Matthieu Teachout, 2017. "Vertical Integration, Supplier Behavior, and Quality Upgrading among Exporters," NBER Working Papers 23949, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Jan Grobovsek, 2016. "Managerial Delegation, Law Enforcement, and Aggregate Productivity," ESE Discussion Papers 271, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
    3. Harald Fadinger & Christian Ghiglino & Mariya Teteryatnikova, 2015. "Productivity, Networks and Input-Output Structure," 2015 Meeting Papers 624, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    4. Lorenzo Caliendo & Fernando Parro & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2017. "Distortions and the Structure of the World Economy," NBER Working Papers 23332, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Hémous, David & Olsen, Morten, 2015. "Long-term Relationships: Static Gains and Dynamic Inefficiencies," CEPR Discussion Papers 10490, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. repec:bpj:bejmac:v:18:y:2018:i:1:p:27:n:11 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Harald Fadinger & Christian Ghiglino & Mariya Teteryatnikova, 2015. "Income Differences and Input-Output Structure," Vienna Economics Papers 1510, University of Vienna, Department of Economics.
    8. Jan Grobovšek, 2011. "Development Accounting with Intermediate Goods," Working Papers 2011.85, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    9. Dominick Bartelme & Yuriy Gorodnichenko, 2015. "Linkages and Economic Development," NBER Working Papers 21251, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    contract enforcement costs; contracting frictions; transaction costs; outsourcing; aggregate productivity;

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • F11 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Neoclassical Models of Trade
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure
    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity

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