IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Outsourcing at Will: Unjust Dismissal Doctrine and the Growth of Temporary Help Employment

  • David H. Autor

The U.S. temporary help services (THS) industry grew at 11 percent annually between 1979 and 1995, five times more rapidly than non-farm employment. Contemporaneously, courts in 46 states adopted exceptions to the common law doctrine of employment at will that limit employers' discretion to terminate workers and opened them to litigation. This paper assesses whether the decline of employment at will and the growth of THS are causally related. To aid the analysis, the paper considers a simple model of employment outsourcing, the primary implication of which is that firms will respond to externally imposed firing costs by outsourcing positions requiring the least firm-specific skills rather than those with the highest expected termination costs. The empirical analysis indicates that one class of exception, the implied contractual right to ongoing employment, led to 14-22 percent excess temporary help growth in adopting states. Unjust dismissal doctrines did not significantly contribute to employment growth in other business service industries. Temporary help employment is closely correlated with union penetration, with states experiencing the least rapid decline in unionization undergoing substantially faster THS growth. The decline of employment at will explains as much as 20 percent of the growth of THS between 1973 and 1995 and accounts for 336,000 to 494,000 additional workers employed in THS on a daily basis as of 1999.

To our knowledge, this item is not available for download. To find whether it is available, there are three options:
1. Check below under "Related research" whether another version of this item is available online.
2. Check on the provider's web page whether it is in fact available.
3. Perform a search for a similarly titled item that would be available.

Paper provided by Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research in its series JCPR Working Papers with number 153.

as
in new window

Length:
Date of creation: 08 Feb 2000
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wop:jopovw:153
Contact details of provider: Postal: Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies, 1155 E. 60th Street Chicago, IL 60637
Phone: 773-702-0472
Web page: http://www.jcpr.org/wp/ByDate.html
Email:


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. DiTella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert, 1999. "The consequences of labour market flexibility: Panel evidence based on survey data," ZEI Working Papers B 02-1999, ZEI - Center for European Integration Studies, University of Bonn.
  2. Katharine G. Abraham & Susan K. Taylor, 1993. "Firms' Use of Outside Contractors: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 4468, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Lewis M. Segal & Daniel G. Sullivan, 1997. "Temporary services employment durations: evidence from state UI data," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues WP-97-23, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  4. John J. Donohue III & James Heckman, 1991. "Continuous Versus Episodic Change: The Impact of Civil Rights Policy on the Economic Status of Blacks," NBER Working Papers 3894, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Lewis M. Segal & Daniel G. Sullivan, 1998. "Wage differentials for temporary services work: evidence from administrative data," Working Paper Series WP-98-23, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  6. Lewis M. Segal & Daniel G. Sullivan, 1995. "The temporary labor force," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Mar, pages 2-19.
  7. Prendergast, Canice, 1993. "The Role of Promotion in Inducing Specific Human Capital Acquisition," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(2), pages 523-34, May.
  8. Daron Acemoglu & Joshua Angrist, 1998. "Consequences of Employment Protection? The Case of the Americans with Disabilities Act," NBER Working Papers 6670, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Levine, David I, 1991. "Just-Cause Employment Policies in the Presence of Worker Adverse Selection," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(3), pages 294-305, July.
  10. Paul Oyer & Scott Schaefer, 2000. "Layoffs and Litigation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 31(2), pages 345-358, Summer.
  11. Lewis Segal & Daniel Sullivan, 1996. "The growth of temporary services work," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues WP-96-26, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  12. Garth L. Mangum & Donald Mayall & Kristin Nelson, 1985. "The temporary help industry: A response to the dual internal labor market," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 38(4), pages 599-611, July.
  13. Aghion, P. & Hermalin, B., 1990. "Legal Restrictions on Private Contracts Can Enhance Efficiency," DELTA Working Papers 90-14, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  14. Susan N. Houseman & Anne E. Polivka, 1999. "The Implications of Flexible Staffing Arrangements for Job Stability," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 99-56, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  15. Marcello Estevao & Saul Lach, 1999. "Measuring temporary labor outsourcing in U.S. manufacturing," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1999-57, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  16. Paul Oyer & Scott Schaefer, 2002. "Litigation Costs and Returns to Experience," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(3), pages 683-705, June.
  17. Hart, Oliver D. & Moore, John, 1990. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Scholarly Articles 3448675, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  18. Prendergast, Canice, 1992. "Career development and specific human capital collection," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 207-227, September.
  19. David H. Autor, 2001. "Why Do Temporary Help Firms Provide Free General Skills Training?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1409-1448, November.
  20. Lazear, Edward P, 1990. "Job Security Provisions and Employment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(3), pages 699-726, August.
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:wop:jopovw:153. 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: (Thomas Krichel)

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.