Offshoring is a controversial aspect of globalisation, and its impact on source country welfare remains ambiguous. This column analyses the impacts of offshoring on local labour market outcomes in Japan. It finds that offshoring exposure led to higher local employment, and particularly for non-offshoring firms. Furthermore, offshoring helped mitigate the negative effects of Chinese import competition on manufacturing employment. It highlights the increase in production by domestic plants as a potential mechanism to explain the positive effects of offshoring.
One of the most controversial aspects of globalisation is offshoring, meaning the transfer of manufacturing operations and business functions overseas. While the simple Ricardo-Viner model, which is also known as the specific factors model, suggests that the international factor movement generally enhances welfare of both offshoring source and host countries, more general models indicate the ambiguous effect of offshoring: the welfare of the source country may fall (e.g. Acemoglu et al. 2015, Egger et al. 2015).
Based on this understanding, the public tends to dislike offshoring. In the US, for example, less than 2% of survey respondents consistently support it (Mansfield and Mutz 2013, Figure 1) because of the possible negative economic consequences. For instance, when firms relocate their production abroad, workers may lose their jobs. Such negative impacts go beyond workers and affect the local economy (Frieden 2019), having negative effects on workers in auxiliary companies and local suppliers, and causing decreases in local income and property values, which eventually leads to young people leaving the area, and the decline of social services (Rickard 2021). Nonetheless, "there is little agreement among academic economists regarding the sign of offshoring's effects on domestic labour market outcomes, let alone the magnitude" (Kovak et al. 2021: 381). However, the studies on the local labour market effects of offshoring exposure are still limited.
To read the full text:
“The effect of openness on domestic employment volatility? Evidence from Japan”
HIGUCHI Yoshio (Keio University) / KIYOTA Kozo (Research Associate, RIETI) /
MATSUURA Toshiyuki (Keio University)
“Frontiers in Research on Offshoring”
ISHIKAWA Jota (Faculty Fellow, RIETI) / ZHANG Hongyong (Senior Fellow, RIETI) / TOMIURA Eiichi (Faculty Fellow, RIETI) and many ohters
“Local Labor Market Effects of Chinese Imports and Offshoring: Evidence from Matched-Foreign Affiliate-Domestic Parent-Domestic Plant Data in Japan”
KIYOTA Kozo (Research Associate, RIETI) / NAKAJIMA Kentaro (Faculty Fellow, RIETI) / TAKIZAWA Miho (Gakushuin University)
“Determinants of Structural Adjustment and Employment Use in Japan: Firm Characteristics, Offshoring and Industrial Robotics”
Timothy DESTEFANO (OECD) / HANEDA Sho (Nihon University) / KWON Hyeog Ug (Faculty Fellow, RIETI)
Our latest discussion papers
“Impacts of Inter-firm Transaction and Ownership Relationships on the Adoption of Remote Work: Evidence from a survey in Japan during the COVID-19 pandemic”
TOMIURA Eiichi (Faculty Fellow, RIETI) / KUMANOMIDO Hiroshi (Research Assistant, RIETI / Hitotsubashi University)
“Impacts of Globalization on the Adoption of Remote Work: Evidence from a survey in Japan during the COVID-19 pandemic”
TOMIURA Eiichi (Faculty Fellow, RIETI) / ITO Banri (Research Associate, RIETI)
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YOSHIDA Yushi (Shiga University) / Kemal TÜRKCAN (Akdeniz University) / YOSHIMI Taiyo (Chuo University)
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