The Economics of Slavery, Forced Labor and Human Trafficking

The Encyclopedia of Law and Economics, Forthcoming

36 Pages Posted: 25 May 2011

See all articles by Patrick Belser

Patrick Belser

International Labour Organization (ILO)

Date Written: May 11, 2008

Abstract

This paper is a review of the literature on slavery, forced labor and human trafficking, which all involve the use of coercion in the production of goods and services. Applying economic theory and numbers to subjects such as slavery, forced labor and human trafficking can be sensitive, and has sometimes been perceived as dehumanizing the problem or diminishing the significance of the moral issue. Once could argue, on the contrary, that economic analysis can help to better understand the nature and causes of these practices, and help identify policies for their prevention and elimination. However, because the subjects are so sensitive, pure economic thinking is perhaps inappropriate. The present paper - while rooted in economics - allows for some multidisciplinary perspectives, drawing also on social sciences such as anthropology or sociology. Economists who venture into this field of research should equip themselves with solid understanding of the qualitative dimensions of coerced labor.

Keywords: forced labor, slavery, human trafficking, coercion, human rights

JEL Classification: J30, J40

Suggested Citation

Belser, Patrick, The Economics of Slavery, Forced Labor and Human Trafficking (May 11, 2008). The Encyclopedia of Law and Economics, Forthcoming , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1838369

Patrick Belser (Contact Author)

International Labour Organization (ILO) ( email )

Route des Morillons 4
Geneva
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