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US multinational activity abroad and US jobs: substitutes or complements?

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  • Harrison, Ann
  • McMillan, Margaret S.
  • Null, Clair

Abstract

Critics of globalization claim that firms are being driven by the prospects of cheaper labor and lower labor standards to shift employment abroad. Yet the evidence, beyond anecdotes, is slim. This paper reports stylized facts on the activities of U.S. multinationals at home and abroad for the years 1977 to 1999. We focus on firms in manufacturing and services, two sectors that have received extensive media attention for supposedly exporting jobs. Using firm-level data collected by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) in Washington, D.C., we report correlations between U.S. multinational employment at home and abroad. Preliminary evidence based on the operations of these multinationals suggests that the sign of the correlation depends on the crucial distinction between affiliates in high-income and low-income countries. For affiliates in high-income countries there is a positive correlation between jobs at home and abroad, suggesting that foreign employment of U.S. multinationals is complementary to domestic employment. For firms that operate in developing countries, employment has been cut in the United States, and affiliate employment has increased. To account for firm size, substitution across firms and entry and exit, we aggregate our data to the industry level. This exercise reveals that the observed “complementarity” between U.S. and foreign jobs has been driven largely by a contraction across all manufacturing sectors. It also reveals that foreign employment in developing countries has substituted for U.S. employment in several highly visible industries, including computers, electronics, and transportation.

Suggested Citation

  • Harrison, Ann & McMillan, Margaret S. & Null, Clair, 2006. "US multinational activity abroad and US jobs: substitutes or complements?," MPRA Paper 36277, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:36277
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Dani Rodrik, 1998. "Has Globalization Gone Too Far?," Challenge, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 41(2), pages 81-94, March.
    2. Mihir A. Desai & C. Fritz Foley & James R. Hines Jr., 2005. "Foreign Direct Investment and Domestic Economic Activity," NBER Working Papers 11717, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. John W. Budd & Matthew J.Slaughter, 2000. "Are Profits Shared Across Borders? Evidence on International Rent Sharing," NBER Working Papers 8014, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. David A. Riker & S. Lael Brainard, 1997. "U.S. Multinationals and Competition from Low Wage Countries," NBER Working Papers 5959, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Alexander Hijzen & Sébastien Jean & Thierry Mayer, 2011. "The effects at home of initiating production abroad: evidence from matched French firms," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 147(3), pages 457-483, September.
    2. Clair Brown & Julia Lane & Timothy Sturgeon, 2013. "Workers' Views of the Impact of Trade on Jobs," Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(1), pages 1-21, January.
    3. Blanas, Sotiris, 2012. "Intra-firm trade and employment in US manufacturing," Kiel Advanced Studies Working Papers 458, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel).
    4. Martin Falk & Yvonne Wolfmayr, 2008. "The Impact of Outward FDI in Central and Eastern Europe on Employment in the EU-15 Countries," WIFO Studies, WIFO, number 34232, August.
    5. Cesare Imbriani & Rosanna Pittiglio & Filippo Reganati, 2011. "Outward Foreign Direct Investment and Domestic Performance: the Italian Manufacturing and Services Sectors," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 39(4), pages 369-381, December.
    6. Liu, Runjuan & Trefler, Daniel, 2019. "A sorted tale of globalization: White collar jobs and the rise of service offshoring," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 105-122.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    multinational corporations; offshoring; employment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business

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