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International Labor Standards and Southern Competition

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  • Laixun Zhao

    (Research Institute for Economics & Business Administration (RIEB), Kobe University, Japan)

Abstract

This paper models the economic aspects of labor standards in an oligopolistic framework of three countries, incorporating labor-management negotiations in the North and monopsonic labor markets in Southern countries. Different from the literature, a higher LS not only requires a higher cost, but also benefits workers and induces them to work harder. Because of theselinks, Northern intervention, via import taxes or minimum LS regulation, may often have perverse effects on Southern countries. Nevertheless, such interventions may occur due to domestic unionization or pressure from global competition. Specifically, imposing a tariff against a certain Southern country to force up its LS does not work. Further, the tariff would shift production to another country. These shed light on why developing countries oppose including LS in WTO negotiations. We also find that union wages, employment and utility increase with a higher import tariff, which explains why unions are keen lobbies of raising LS in developing countries. Under minimum LS regulation in one Southern country, the LS and profits in the other Southern country and the utility of the Northern union may fall. Finally, as the empirical evidence shows, we demonstrate that multinational enterprises choose to locate in those developing countries whose LS is relatively higher rather than lower, because LS benefits workers and labor unions, and is thus productive.

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File URL: http://www.rieb.kobe-u.ac.jp/academic/ra/dp/English/dp193.pdf
File Function: First version, 2006
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Research Institute for Economics & Business Administration, Kobe University in its series Discussion Paper Series with number 193.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:kob:dpaper:193

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Keywords: Labor Standards; Labor Unions; Oligopoly; Trade Policy; North-South Issues;

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  1. Nancy H. Chau & Ravi Kanbur, 2006. "The Race to the Bottom, from the Bottom," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 73(290), pages 193-228, 05.
  2. Mezzetti, Claudio & Dinopoulos, Elias, 1991. "Domestic unionization and import competition," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1-2), pages 79-100, August.
  3. James A. Brander & Barbara J. Spencer, 1984. "Export Subsidies and International Market Share Rivalry," NBER Working Papers 1464, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Drusilla K. Brown & Alan V. Deardorff & Robert M. Stern, 2001. "Labor Standards: Where Do They Belong on the International Trade Agenda?," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0113, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  5. Dixit, Avinash K, 1986. "Comparative Statics for Oligopoly," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 27(1), pages 107-22, February.
  6. Leahy, Dermot & Montagna, Catia, 1999. "Unionisation and Foreign Direct Investment," CEPR Discussion Papers 2260, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Brown, D.K. & Dearorff, A.V. & Stern, R.M., 1993. "International Labor Standards and Trade: A Theoretical Analysis," Working Papers 333, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
  8. Saqib Jafarey & Sajal Lahiri, 1999. "Will trade sanctions reduce child labour? The role of credit markets," Economics Discussion Papers 500, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
  9. 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.
  10. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
  11. Brander, James A. & Spencer, Barbara J., 1988. "Unionized oligopoly and international trade policy," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(3-4), pages 217-234, May.
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