Good for the Goose, Bad for the Gander: International Labor Standards and Comparative Development

Posted: 17 May 2006

See all articles by Peter T. Leeson

Peter T. Leeson

George Mason University - Department of Economics

Joshua C. Hall

West Virginia University

Abstract

The international labor rights movement, led by the International Labour Organization (ILO), argues that developing countries are currently ready for more stringent labor standards. This paper investigates this claim by examining the timing of labor standard adoption in highly developed countries. These nations were all once as poor as today's developing countries and made the tradeoff between labor standards and income at some point in their past. Their experience therefore suggests a safe income threshold for adopting similar labor standards in the developing world. We find that every ILO-proposed labor standard is highly premature for the developing countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. These countries are between 100 and 300 years from reaching this threshold. ILO-proposed policy is exactly backward. A substantial relaxation of labor standards is the appropriate labor policy for this part of the developing world.

Suggested Citation

Leeson, Peter T. and Hall, Joshua C., Good for the Goose, Bad for the Gander: International Labor Standards and Comparative Development. Journal of Labor Research, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=901890

Peter T. Leeson (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.peterleeson.com

Joshua C. Hall

West Virginia University ( email )

Morgantown, WV 26506
United States

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