Economics - General Labor Economics

Offshorable Economists

In recent years, economists have examined the phenomenon of offshoring.  Offshorable service jobs are characterized by a number of factors.   Jensen and Kletzer note that offshorable jobs have little face-to-face customer contact and work processes that can be monitored via the internet.  Thus, data entry is easily offshorable whereas barbershop services are not.

A paper by Alan Blinder reveals a troubling observation: economists are easily offshorable!  The occupation of “Economist” had an offshoreablitily index of 89%.  This ranks economists as the 37th most offshorable profession of the 291 occupations studied.  A presentation by Lori Kletzer at the UC Labor Economics workshop claimed that economists are the 15th most offshorable profession of the 457.

Why are economists so offshorable?  Economists write frequently, conduct data analysis and think a lot.  All of these tasks can be done anywhere in the world (assuming you have a laptop and an internet connection).  Looks like American economists aren’t indispensible after all.