The movement of jobs overseas has caused mounting anxiety in the United States over the past decade. Variously referred to as “outsourcing,” “offshoring,” or “offshore outsourcing,” this phenomenon first started to arouse concern in the US at the turn of the twenty-first century, when the conclusion of an economic downturn was followed by a tepid recovery in the US labor market. As China, India, and the post-Communist states took steps to increase their engagement with the global economy, an extra 1.3 billion workers joined the global workforce, nearly doubling its size and raising fears that US firms would relocate jobs overseas to cut labor costs. This issue rose to prominence during the 2004 presidential election, when Senator John Kerry accused President George W. Bush of promoting outsourcing and lambasted “Benedict Arnold ceos” for moving jobs abroad. Since then, this issue has continued to stimulate widespread public interest. A burgeoning literature on the economics of outsourcing and offshoring has emerged, but few studies have addressed the politics of this phenomenon. The authors aim to help fill this gap in the literature by providing an understanding of the origins of American attitudes toward outsourcing.
Published in Volume 65, Issue 4, pages 571-608