IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Outsourcing, Unemployment and Welfare Policy

  • Christian Keuschnigg


  • Evelyn Ribi


Outsourcing of labor intensive activities challenges the welfare state and undermines the protection of low-skilled workers. The stylized facts are that profits are concentrated among the high-skilled, involuntary unemployment is mostly among the low-skilled, and private unemployment insurance is missing. This paper analyzes the effectiveness of redistribution and insurance policies when heterogeneous firms can outsource labor intensive components to low-wage economies. The main results are: (i) Social insurance props up wages, leading to more outsourcing and unskilled unemployment. (ii) Redistribution from the skilled to the working poor acts as a wage subsidy to unskilled workers, thereby reducing gross wages, outsourcing and unemployment. (iii) A trend to outsourcing, induced by lower transport costs of imported components, depresses low-skilled wages, raises unemployment, and boosts profits. The resulting polarization of society and the increased income risk of unskilled workers emphasize the social gains from redistribution and insurance and thus call for a more active role of the welfare state in more open economies.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen in its series University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2007 with number 2007-41.

in new window

Length: 41 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:usg:dp2007:2007-41
Contact details of provider: Postal: Dufourstrasse 50, CH - 9000 St.Gallen
Phone: +41 71 224 23 25
Fax: +41 71 224 31 35
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. 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.
  2. Martin Feldstein & James M. Poterba, 1982. "Unemployment Insurance and Reservation Wages," NBER Working Papers 1011, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Spector, David, 2001. "Is it possible to redistribute the gains from trade using income taxation?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 441-460, December.
  4. Carl Davidson & Steven J. Matusz, 2006. "Trade Liberalization And Compensation," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 47(3), pages 723-747, 08.
  5. Marc J. Melitz, 2003. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(6), pages 1695-1725, November.
  6. Guesnerie, R., 2000. "Second Best Redistributive Policies : the Case of International Trade," DELTA Working Papers 2000-21, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  7. Hans-Werner Sinn, 2007. "The Welfare State and the Forces of Globalization," NBER Working Papers 12946, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Davidson, Carl & Martin, Lawrence & Matusz, Steven, 1999. "Trade and search generated unemployment," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 271-299, August.
  9. Pol Antràs, 2003. "Incomplete Contracts and the Product Cycle," NBER Working Papers 9945, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Feenstra, Robert C & Hanson, Gordon H, 1996. "Globalization, Outsourcing, and Wage Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 240-45, May.
  11. Hartmut Egger & Udo Kreickemeier, 2007. "Firm Heterogeneity and the Labour Market Effects of Trade Liberalisation," CESifo Working Paper Series 2000, CESifo Group Munich.
  12. Christian Keuschnigg, 2007. "Exports, Foreign Direct Investment and the Costs of Corporate Taxation," Working Papers 0708, Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation.
  13. Immervoll, Herwig & Kleven, Henrik Jacobsen & Kreiner, Claus Thustrup & Saez, Emmanuel, 2005. "Welfare Reform in European Countries: A Microsimulation Analysis," IZA Discussion Papers 1810, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. CREMER, Helmuth & PESTIEAU, Pierre, 1995. "Redistributive Taxation and Social Insurance," CORE Discussion Papers 1995054, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  15. Raj Chetty, 2005. "A General Formula for the Optimal Level of Social Insurance," NBER Working Papers 11386, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Lancaster, Tony & Chesher, Andrew, 1983. "An Econometric Analysis of Reservation Wages," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(6), pages 1661-76, November.
  17. Gruber, Jonathan, 1997. "The Consumption Smoothing Benefits of Unemployment Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(1), pages 192-205, March.
  18. Mankiw, N. Gregory & Zeldes, Stephen P., 1991. "The consumption of stockholders and nonstockholders," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 97-112, March.
  19. Robert E. Lucas Jr., 1978. "On the Size Distribution of Business Firms," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 9(2), pages 508-523, Autumn.
  20. Elhanan Helpman & Marc J. Melitz & Stephen R. Yeaple, 2004. "Export Versus FDI with Heterogeneous Firms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 300-316, March.
  21. Robin Boadway & Manuel Leite-Monteiro & Maurice Marchand & Pierre Pestieau, 2002. "Social Insurance and Redistribution," Working Papers 1004, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  22. Helpman, Elhanan, 2006. "Trade, FDI and the Organization of Firms," CEPR Discussion Papers 5589, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  23. Pol Antras & Elhanan Helpman, 2004. "Global Sourcing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(3), pages 552-580, June.
  24. Ekholm, Karolina & Hakkala, Katariina, 2006. "The Effect of Offshoring on Labour Demand: Evidence from Sweden," CEPR Discussion Papers 5648, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  25. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:117:y:2002:i:3:p:1039-1073 is not listed on IDEAS
  26. Boone, J. & Bovenberg, A.L., 2004. "The optimal taxation of unskilled labor with job search and social assistance," Other publications TiSEM 23eaec1d-2ceb-483e-98a9-e, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  27. Vanessa Strauss-Kahn, 2004. "The Role of Globalization in the Within-Industry Shift Away from Unskilled Workers in France," NBER Chapters, in: Challenges to Globalization: Analyzing the Economics, pages 209-234 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  28. Falk, Martin & Wolfmayr, Yvonne, 2008. "Services and materials outsourcing to low-wage countries and employment: Empirical evidence from EU countries," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 38-52, March.
  29. repec:hrv:faseco:4784029 is not listed on IDEAS
  30. Davidson, Carl & Matusz, Steven J. & Shevchenko, Andrei, 2008. "Globalization and firm level adjustment with imperfect labor markets," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 295-309, July.
  31. Eckstein, Zvi & van den Berg, Gerard J., 2007. "Empirical labor search: A survey," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 136(2), pages 531-564, February.
  32. Razin, Assaf & Sadka, Efraim & Swagel, Phillip, 2002. "Tax burden and migration: a political economy theory and evidence," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(2), pages 167-190, August.
  33. Bob Anderton & Paul Brenton, 1998. "Outsourcing and Low-Skilled Workers in the UK," CSGR Working papers series 12/98, Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation (CSGR), University of Warwick.
  34. C. Díaz-Mora & A. Triguero-Cano, 2012. "Why do some firms contract out production? Evidence from firm-level panel data," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(13), pages 1631-1644, May.
  35. Blanchard, Olivier J & Tirole, Jean, 2007. "The Joint Design of Unemployment Insurance and Employment Protection. A First Pass," CEPR Discussion Papers 6127, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  36. Blundell, Richard, 2006. "Earned income tax credit policies: Impact and optimality: The Adam Smith Lecture, 2005," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 423-443, August.
  37. Angela Triguero, & Carmen Díaz Mora, . "Why do some firms contract out production?," Studies on the Spanish Economy 232, FEDEA.
  38. Hartmut Egger & Peter Egger, 2000. "Outsourcing and skill-specific employment in a small economy: Austria and the fall of the Iron Curtain," Economics working papers 2000-24, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  39. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:117:y:2002:i:1:p:85-120 is not listed on IDEAS
  40. Krueger, Alan B. & Meyer, Bruce D., 2002. "Labor supply effects of social insurance," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 33, pages 2327-2392 Elsevier.
  41. Dani Rodrik, 1996. "Why Do More Open Economies Have Bigger Governments?," NBER Working Papers 5537, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  42. Baily, Martin Neil, 1978. "Some aspects of optimal unemployment insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 379-402, December.
  43. Hosios, Arthur J, 1990. "On the Efficiency of Matching and Related Models of Search and Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(2), pages 279-98, April.
  44. van den Berg, Gerard J, 1990. "Search Behaviour, Transitions to Nonparticipation and the Duration of Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(402), pages 842-65, September.
  45. Carmen Diaz-Mora, 2008. "What factors determine the outsourcing intensity? A dynamic panel data approach for manufacturing industries," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(19), pages 2509-2521.
  46. Egger, Hartmut & Kreickemeier, Udo, 2008. "International fragmentation: Boon or bane for domestic employment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(1), pages 116-132, January.
  47. Edward N. Wolff, 1998. "Recent Trends in the Size Distribution of Household Wealth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 131-150, Summer.
  48. Hartmut Egger & Peter Egger, 2003. "Outsourcing and skill-specific employment in a small economy: Austria after the fall of the Iron Curtain," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 55(4), pages 625-643, October.
  49. Fishe, Raymond P H, 1982. "Unemployment Insurance and the Reservation Wage of the Unemployed," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 64(1), pages 12-17, February.
  50. Emmanuel Saez, 2000. "Optimal Income Transfer Programs: Intensive Versus Extensive Labor Supply Responses," NBER Working Papers 7708, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  51. Stephen Nickell, 1997. "Unemployment and Labor Market Rigidities: Europe versus North America," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 55-74, Summer.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:usg:dp2007:2007-41. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Joerg Baumberger)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.