Labor Law and the Race to the Bottom

51 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2013

See all articles by Steven L. Willborn

Steven L. Willborn

University of Nebraska at Lincoln - College of Law

Date Written: October 11, 2013


This article challenges the dominant narrative supporting a race to the bottom in labor law. It supplies narratives that support the empirical literature – that there may not be much of a race at all and, even if there is, it may not be as fast and sudden as advertised. Some labor regulation may produce net benefits for society. This labor regulation should be enhanced, not harmed, by global competition. But even labor regulation that imposes net costs on society may not be subject to the race to the bottom for a variety of reasons. The article does not prove that there is never a race to the bottom. But it does demonstrate that there are plausible, alternative narratives to the dominant one. A narrative skeptical of the race-to-the-bottom hypothesis may help to re-calibrate the scales used to consider labor regulation. If we believe in a race to the bottom a bit less, we may be empowered to think more deeply and creatively about the promise and possibilities of effective labor regulation.

Keywords: Labor Law, Employment Law

JEL Classification: K31

Suggested Citation

Willborn, Steven L., Labor Law and the Race to the Bottom (October 11, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Steven L. Willborn (Contact Author)

University of Nebraska at Lincoln - College of Law ( email )

103 McCollum Hall
P.O. Box 830902
Lincoln, NE 68583-0902
United States
402-472-1256 (Phone)

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