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Can deunionization lead to international outsourcing?

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 implies higher domestic wages, reduce incentives for international outsourcing. Though somewhat surprising, this results provides a theoretical reconciliation 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.

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Paper provided by University of Bergen, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers in Economics with number 15/05.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: 05 Jun 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:bergec:2005_015
Contact details of provider: Postal: Institutt for økonomi, Universitetet i Bergen, Postboks 7802, 5020 Bergen, Norway
Phone: (+47)55589200
Fax: (+47)55589210
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  8. Grossman, Gene & Helpman, Elhanan, 2002. "Outsourcing Versus FDI in Industry Equilibrium," CEPR Discussion Papers 3647, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  11. Lommerud, Kjell Erik & Meland, Frode & Sørgard, Lars, 2001. "Unionized Oligopoly, Trade Liberalization and Location Choice," CEPR Discussion Papers 2990, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Lommerud, Kjell Erik & Meland, Frode & Straume, Odd Rune, 2005. "Globalization and Union Opposition to Technological Change," CEPR Discussion Papers 4836, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  14. Mary Amiti & Shang-Jin Wei, 2004. "Fear of Service Outsourcing: Is It Justified?," IMF Working Papers 04/186, International Monetary Fund.
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  16. Naylor, Robin, 1997. "Union Wage Strategies and International Trade," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 480, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  17. Yongmin Chen & Jota Ishikawa & Zhihao Yu, 2002. "Trade Liberalization and Strategic Outsourcing," Carleton Economic Papers 02-12, Carleton University, Department of Economics, revised Jul 2004.
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  21. Alexander Hijzen & Holger Görg & Robert C. Hine, 2005. "International Outsourcing and the Skill Structure of Labour Demand in the United Kingdom," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(506), pages 860-878, October.
  22. Glass, Amy Jocelyn & Saggi, Kamal, 2001. "Innovation and wage effects of international outsourcing," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 67-86, January.
  23. 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.
  24. 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, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 907-940.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. Gene M. Grossman & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2008. "Trading Tasks: A Simple Theory of Offshoring," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 1978-97, December.
  29. 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.
  30. Pol Antràs & Luis Garicano & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2006. "Offshoring in a Knowledge Economy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(1), pages 31-77.
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  36. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 2002. "Integration versus Outsourcing in Industry Equilibrium," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(1), pages 85-120.
  37. Shy, Oz & Stenbacka, Rune, 2003. "Strategic outsourcing," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 203-224, February.
  38. 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.
  39. 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.
  40. 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.
  41. 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.
  42. Zhao, Laixun, 2001. "Unionization, vertical markets, and the outsourcing of multinationals," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 187-202, October.
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