Social Dumping: Political Catchphrase or Threat to Labour Standards?

40 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2013

See all articles by Magdalena Bernaciak

Magdalena Bernaciak

European Trade Union Institute (ETUI)

Date Written: September 10, 2012


Despite its widespread use in popular discourse, the term ‘social dumping’ remains poorly defined and thus subject to misconceptions or conscious abuse. This paper reviews recent public debates and academic studies on real or perceived social dumping threats, drawing attention to the simplistic understanding of the mechanism underlying such practices as well as to enduring operationalization problems. It goes on to offer a refined conceptualisation of the notion by constructing an analogy between trade and social dumping. Finally, using examples from the EU context, it outlines key characteristics of social dumping practices pursued in the areas of labour/services and capital mobility.

Keywords: international relocation of industry, labour mobility, capital flow, EU enlargement

Suggested Citation

Bernaciak, Magdalena, Social Dumping: Political Catchphrase or Threat to Labour Standards? (September 10, 2012). ETUI Working Paper 2012.06, Available at SSRN: or

Magdalena Bernaciak (Contact Author)

European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) ( email )

B-1210 Brussels

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics