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Foreign Investment, Outsourcing and Relative Wages

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  • Robert C. Feenstra
  • Gordon H. Hanson

Abstract

In this paper we examine the reduction in the relative employment and wages of unskilled workers in the U.S. during the 1980's. We argue that a contributing factor to this decline was rising imports reflecting the outsourcing of production activities. In a theoretical model, we show that any increase in the Southern capital stock relative to that of the North, or neutral technological progress in the South, will increase the relative wage of skilled workers in both countries due to a shift in production activities to the South. Corresponding to this change in the relative wage is an increase in the price index of Northern activities within each industry, relative to that of the South. We confirm that this change in relative prices occurred for the U.S. and other industrialized countries relative to their trading partners. We also estimate that 15-33% of the increase in the relative wage of nonproduction (or skilled) workers in the U.S. during the 1980's is explained by rising imports.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert C. Feenstra & Gordon H. Hanson, 1995. "Foreign Investment, Outsourcing and Relative Wages," NBER Working Papers 5121, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5121
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • F21 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Investment; Long-Term Capital Movements

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