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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
Web page: http://www.uib.no/econ/en
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  1. 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.
  2. Esteban Rossi-Hansberg & Pol Antras & Luis Garicano, 2005. "Offshoring in a Knowledge Economy," 2005 Meeting Papers 196, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  3. 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.
  4. repec:hrv:faseco:4784029 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 2005. "Outsourcing in a Global Economy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(1), pages 135-159.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
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  9. 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.
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  12. 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.
  13. Alexander Hijzen & Paul Swaim, . "Does offshoring reduce industry employment?," Discussion Papers 07/24, University of Nottingham, GEP.
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  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
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  23. 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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  30. repec:hrv:faseco:4784031 is not listed on IDEAS
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  32. 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.
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  35. Horn, Henrik & Wolinsky, Asher, 1988. "Worker Substitutability and Patterns of Unionisation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 98(391), pages 484-97, June.
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