Globalisation, Women's Economic Rights and Forced Labour

26 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2007

See all articles by Eric Neumayer

Eric Neumayer

London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

Indra De Soysa

Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Abstract

Globalisation critics are concerned that increased trade openness and foreign direct investment exacerbate existing economic disadvantages of women and foster conditions for forced labour. Defenders of globalisation argue instead that as countries become more open and competition intensifies, discrimination against any group, including women, becomes more difficult to sustain and is therefore likely to recede. The same is argued with respect to forced labour. This article puts these competing claims to an empirical test. We find that countries that are more open to trade provide better economic rights to women and have a lower incidence of forced labour. This effect holds in a global sample as well as in a developing country sub-sample and holds also when potential feedback effects are controlled via instrumental variable regression. The extent of an economy's 'penetration' by foreign direct investment by and large has no statistically significant impact. Globalisation might weaken the general bargaining position of labour such that outcome-related labour standards might suffer. However, being more open toward trade is likely to promote rather than hinder the realisation of two labour rights considered as core or fundamental by the International Labour Organisation, namely the elimination of economic discrimination and of forced labour.

Suggested Citation

Neumayer, Eric and De Soysa, Indra, Globalisation, Women's Economic Rights and Forced Labour. The World Economy, Vol. 30, No. 10, pp. 1510-1535, October 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1015641 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9701.2007.01060.x

Eric Neumayer (Contact Author)

London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom
+44 207 955 7598 (Phone)
+44 207 955 7412 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://personal.lse.ac.uk/neumayer

Indra De Soysa

Norwegian University of Science and Technology ( email )

Trondheim NO-7491
Norway

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