Observations on International Labor Standards and Trade

44 Pages Posted: 3 May 1998 Last revised: 8 May 2000

See all articles by Alan B. Krueger

Alan B. Krueger

Princeton University - Industrial Relations Section; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: June 1996

Abstract

This paper reviews the theoretical arguments for and against linking international labor standards to trade. Based on theory alone it is difficult to generalize about the effect of labor standards on efficiency and equity. Some economists have argued that international labor standards are merely disguised protectionism. An evaluation of determinants of support for legislation that would ban imports to the United States of goods made with child labor provides little support for the prevailing political economy view. In particular, members of Congress representing districts with relatively many unskilled workers, who are most likely to compete with child labor, are less likely to support a ban on imports made with child labor. Another finding is that the prevalence of child labor declines sharply with national income. Last, an analysis of compulsory schooling laws, which are often suggested as an alternative to prohibiting child labor, finds a tremendous amount of noncompliance in developing nations.

Suggested Citation

Krueger, Alan B., Observations on International Labor Standards and Trade (June 1996). NBER Working Paper No. w5632. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3201

Alan B. Krueger (Contact Author)

Princeton University - Industrial Relations Section ( email )

Princeton, NJ 08544-2098
United States
609-258-4046 (Phone)
609-258-2907 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
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Germany

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