Working Paper

Gains from Offshoring? Evidence from U.S. Microdata


Abstract: We construct a new linked data set with over one thousand offshoring events by matching Trade Adjustment Assistance program petition data to confidential data on U.S. firm operations. We exploit these data to assess how offshoring affects domestic firm-level aggregate employment, output, wages and productivity. Consistent with heterogenous firm models where offshoring involves a fixed cost, we find that the average offshoring firm is larger and more productive than the average non-offshorer. After initiating offshoring, firms experience large declines in employment (46.2 per cent), output (38.5 per cent) and capital (28.8 per cent) relative to their industry peers. We find no significant change in average wages or in total factor productivity measures for offshoring firms. These results are consistent across two separate difference-in-differences (DID) approaches, an instrumental variables approach, and a number of robustness checks. Thus, we find offshoring to be a strong substitute for domestic activity in this large sample of offshoring events.

Keywords: productivity; employment; Outsourcing; manufacturing; firm performance; trade;

JEL Classification: F66; F23; F61; F16; F14;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.)

Part of Series: International Finance Discussion Papers

Publication Date: 2014-11-11

Number: 1124

Pages: 63 pages