The Impact of Outsourcing on the Japanese and South Korean Labor Markets:
International Outsourcing of Intermediate Inputs and Assembly in East Asia

Sanghoon Ahn
Kyoji Fukao
Keiko Ito

October 2008


Applying a common empirical approach to comparable industry-level data on production, trade,and labor markets for Japan and South Korea, this paper aims to investigate the impacts of outsourcing on different sectors of the labor market focusing on differences in educational attainment. While outsourcing measures used in previous studies only take account of the outsourcing of intermediate inputs, this paper, utilizing the Asian International Input-Output Tables, incorporates the outsourcing of assembly.

The econometric results indicate that outsourcing to Asia (particularly to China) has a negative impact on the demand for workers with lower education and a positive impact on the demand for workers with higher education both in Japan and Korea. Moreover, the international outsourcing of assembly has a significant impact on skill upgrading, particularly in the Korean electrical machinery sector.

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