The Impact of International Labor Standards: A Survey of Economic Theory

UCSC Economics Working Paper No. 483

95 Pages Posted: 26 Oct 2001

See all articles by Nirvikar Singh

Nirvikar Singh

University of California, Santa Cruz

Date Written: October 2001

Abstract

The main question guiding this study is whether international labor standards will benefit the poor, in particular, developing countries and the poor in those countries. We survey the theoretical literature on international labor standards, and give an overview of the analytical framework and main arguments provided in this literature. Among the situations in which a case for labor standards may arise are imperfections in labor markets, market power effects in international trade, and concerns that consumers, or individuals in general, may have about the working conditions or rights that other individuals enjoy. We emphasize the importance of making clear the value judgments being used, and discuss the different institutional issues that may arise in considering the implementation of labor standards. In general, while there are contexts in which promoting labor standards through some form of collective action is beneficial, we argue that such policies ought to be incorporated into a broader perspective on well-being, and a package of policies that can promote the well-being of the poor.

Keywords: Labor standards, trade, rights, welfare, development

JEL Classification: D7, F16, J00, O19

Suggested Citation

Singh, Nirvikar, The Impact of International Labor Standards: A Survey of Economic Theory (October 2001). UCSC Economics Working Paper No. 483, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=288351 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.288351

Nirvikar Singh (Contact Author)

University of California, Santa Cruz ( email )

Department of Economics
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Santa Cruz, CA 95064
United States
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