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Labor standards, labor-management bargaining and international rivalry

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  • Hur, Jung
  • Zhao, Laixun

Abstract

Using the labor union's bargaining power as an indication of government policy on labor standards issues, we analyze the competition between a domestic (North) firm and a foreign (South) firm, and their relationship with optimal labor standards (LS). First, we show that the optimal level of LS is higher when labor unions are employment-oriented than when they are not. Second, it is higher under free trade than under the optimal tariff system if labor unions are employment-oriented. Third, 'a race to the bottom' of LS occurs in the case of wage-oriented unions. Fourth, the North's imposing a tariff to force the Southern government to raise its LS is effective only if the Southern union is wage-oriented. In order to raise Southern LS, both countries may need some deeper form of economic integration, if the North does not want to abandon its free trade system.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 71 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (August)
Pages: 259-272

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:71:y:2009:i:2:p:259-272

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

Related research

Keywords: Labor standards Race to the bottom Tariff Economic integration Labor union;

References

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  1. Chau, Nancy H. & Kanbur, Ravi, 2000. "The Race to the Bottom, From the Bottom," Working Papers 127681, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  2. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 1999. "Domestic Policies, National Sovereignty and International Economic Institutions," NBER Working Papers 7293, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 2001. "The WTO as a Mechanism for Securing Market Access Property Rights: Implications for Global Labor and Environmental Issues," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 69-88, Summer.
  4. Clask, A. & Oswald, A., 1992. "Trade Union Utility Functions: A survey of Union Leaders' Views," Economics Series Working Papers 99132, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  5. Basu, Kaushik, 1998. "Child labor : cause, consequence, and cure, with remarks on International Labor Standards," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2027, The World Bank.
  6. Eaton, Jonathan & Grossman, Gene M, 1986. "Optimal Trade and Industrial Policy under Oligopoly," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 101(2), pages 383-406, May.
  7. Neumayer, Eric & Soysa, Indra de, 2006. "Globalization and the Right to Free Association and Collective Bargaining: An Empirical Analysis," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 31-49, January.
  8. Mezzetti, Claudio & Dinopoulos, Elias, 1991. "Domestic unionization and import competition," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1-2), pages 79-100, August.
  9. Zhao, Laixun, 2001. "Unionization, vertical markets, and the outsourcing of multinationals," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 187-202, October.
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