Brookings Trade Forum: 2005

Offshoring White-Collar Work

The media stokes popular images of white-collar jobs disappearing from America's shores, frequently through dramatic, often anecdotal or inconsistent "statistics." This volume of Brookings Trade Forum illuminates questions surrounding offshoring from a variety of complementary angles—from theory to empirics, from industry studies to aggregate labor market effects, and from both developed and developing country vantage points.

Existing evidence suggests that relatively few service and white-collar jobs have been offshored to date, but concerns on what might happen in the future persist. Will high-skilled workers in advanced economies such as the United States gain or lose from increased offshoring of services? Are workers in services more or less exposed to global competition than those in manufacturing? What are the complex effects on developing countries? And, what is the policy agenda that emerges from the spread of offshoring into services? The contributors here demonstrate that existing economic theory can go a long way toward capturing, and understanding, key dimensions of the services offshoring phenomenon.

Contents Include:

Editors’ Summary (Full Text)


Modeling the Offshoring of White-Collar Services: From Comparative Advantage to the New Theories of Trade and Foreign Direct Investment (Abstract)
James R. Markusen (University of Colorado—Boulder)

Service Offshoring: Threats and Opportunities (Abstract)
Daniel Trefler (University of Toronto)


Tradable Services: Understanding the Scope and Impact of Services Offshoring (Abstract)
J. Bradford Jensen (Institute for Ineternational Economics) and Lori G. Kletzer (University of California—Santa Cruz)

Trends in Employment at U.S. Multinational Companies: Evidence from Firm-Level Data (Abstract)
Maria Borga (U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis)

Potential Offshoring: Evidence from Selected OECD Countries (Abstract)
Desirée van Welsum (OECD) and Xavier Reif (OECD)


Information-Technology-Enabled Services and India’s Growth Prospects (Abstract)
T. N. Srinivasan (Yale University)

Globalization and the Offshoring of Services: The Case of India (Abstract)
Rafiq Dossani (Stanford University)


Offshoring in the Semiconductor Industry: A Historical Perspective (Abstract)
Clair Brown (University of California—Berkeley) and Greg Linden (University of California—Berkeley)

Service Management and Employment Systems in U.S. and Indian Call Centers (Abstract)
Rosemary Batt (Cornell University), Virginia Doellgast (Cornell University), and Hyunji Kwon (Cornell University)

Determinants of Operational Risk in Global Sourcing of Financial Services: Evidence from Field Research (Abstract)
Ravi Aron (University of Pennsylvania) and Ying Liu (University of Pennsylvania)

The Emerging Offshore Software Industries and the U.S. Economy (Abstract)
Ashish Arora (Carnegie Mellon University)

Offshoring and Radiology (Abstract)
Frank Levy (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and Ari Goelman (Massachusette Institute of Technology)


A Fairer Deal for America’s Workers in a New Era of Offshoring (Abstract)
Lael Brainard (Brookings Institution), Robert E. Litan (Brookings Institution and Kaufmann Foundation), and Nicholas Warren (Brookings Institution)

The Role of U.S. Tax Policy in Offshoring (Abstract)
Kimberly A. Clausing (Reed College)

ISSN 1520-5479