The Impact of Domestic Subcontracting on Wages, Job Quality, and Inequality

Awarded Scholars:
Annette Bernhardt, University of California, Berkeley
Susan Houseman, W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research
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Project Date:
Nov 2014
Award Amount:
Project Programs:
Future of Work

While the international offshoring of work in global supply chains has been the focus of much research over the last decade, its domestic counterpart has received relatively little scholarly attention. Despite evidence that substantial growth in domestic outsourcing has accompanied growth in offshore outsourcing, little is known about the extent of domestic contracting out and its implications for workers.

Sociologist Annette Bernhardt, economists Susan Houseman and Eileen Appelbaum, and labor expert Rosemary Batt will develop a conceptual framework and a proposal for a research agenda for a new RSF funding initiative on domestic contracting. The primary focus will be documenting the prevalence of the practice and its impact on wages, job quality, and inequality. In developing this framework, the group will seek to sharpen the definition of domestic contracting in a way that clearly situates this research project relative to the existing literatures on contingent, nonstandard, and precarious work; identify which industries and production networks are the most promising for additional research; and identify which data sources and methods have been the most useful in research to date on contracting out.


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