Could International Labor Rights Play a Role in U.S. Trade?
AbstractDuring its last complete business cycle, from 2001 to 2007, the United States experienced unsustainably high trade deficits. Policymakers are considering a number of measures to avoid a recurrence of such large external imbalances. One such measure is the promotion of better labor rights around the world. Proponents argue that higher labor standards would boost U.S. exports by increasing income growth abroad and reduce U.S. imports by shrinking international price differences. Opponents of such a policy move argue that it is disguised protectionism that will impede trade and harm living standards in the United States and abroad. In this paper, Weller combines U.S. trade data with data on international labor standards and other relevant economic variables to study if there is a link between labor rights abroad and U.S. trade. The results suggest that the United States would have benefited from more exports if there had been better worker rights around the world, while labor rights would not have had any measurable impact on U.S. imports. That is, the promotion of better worker rights around the world could contribute to fewer external imbalances without impeding international trade flows.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst in its series Working Papers with number wp196.
Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision:
U.S. trade deficit; labor rights; relative price differences;
Other versions of this item:
- Christian E. Weller, 2011. "Could international labour rights play a role in US trade?," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 35(1), pages 39-57.
- F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
- F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
- F17 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Forecasting and Simulation
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Rodrik, Dani, 1998.
"Democracies Pay Higher Wages,"
CEPR Discussion Papers
1776, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Busse, Matthias, 2002. "Do Labor Standards Affect Comparative Advantage in Developing Countries?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 30(11), pages 1921-1932, November.
- Martin, Will & Maskus, Keith E, 2001. "Core Labor Standards and Competitiveness: Implications for Global Trade Policy," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 9(2), pages 317-28, May.
- Catherine L. Mann, 2002. "Perspectives on the U.S. Current Account Deficit and Sustainability," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(3), pages 131-152, Summer.
- Dutt, Pushan & Mitra, Devashish, 2006. "Labor versus capital in trade-policy: The role of ideology and inequality," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 310-320, July.
- Christian Weller & Laura Singleton, 2004. "Political Freedom, External Liberalization and Financial Stability," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(1), pages 1-22.
- John WEEKS, 1999. "Wages, employment and workers' rights in Latin America, 1970–98," International Labour Review, International Labour Organization, vol. 138(2), pages 151-169, 06.
- Thomas I. Palley, 2004. "The economic case for international labour standards," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 28(1), pages 21-36, January.
- 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.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Judy Fogg).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.