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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Hur, Jung & Zhao, Laixun, 2009. "Labor standards, labor-management bargaining and international rivalry," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 259-272, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:71:y:2009:i:2:p:259-272
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Mezzetti, Claudio & Dinopoulos, Elias, 1991. "Domestic unionization and import competition," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1-2), pages 79-100, August.
    2. Kaushik Basu, 1999. "Child Labor: Cause, Consequence, and Cure, with Remarks on International Labor Standards," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(3), pages 1083-1119, September.
    3. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 2001. "Domestic Policies, National Sovereignty, and International Economic Institutions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 519-562.
    4. 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, May.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. Zhao, Laixun, 2001. "Unionization, vertical markets, and the outsourcing of multinationals," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 187-202, October.
    8. Jonathan Eaton & Gene M. Grossman, 1986. "Optimal Trade and Industrial Policy Under Oligopoly," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(2), pages 383-406.
    9. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lee, Ki-Dong & Lee, Woohyung, 2016. "Exports versus export-platform FDI with endogenous wage determination," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 479-489.

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