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Social dumping and relocation: is there a case for imposing a social clause?

  • Cordella, Tito
  • Grilo, Isabel

Public opinion in Europe seems worried about the effect of lower-wage country competition. In both newspaper articles and in policy debates, the term ‘social dumping’ is becoming more and more popular. In many countries, trade unions worried by the effect of what they call ‘unfair competition’, propose the adoption of a ‘social clause’ protecting domestic markets from commodities produced in countries were minimal labour conditions are not met. We analyse the effects of such a policy in the framework of a vertically differentiated Bertrand duopoly. In particular, we study the effects of such a policy on the relocation decisions of the firms and perform a welfare analysis. The welfare analysis takes explicitly into account the unemployment situation in the domestic country by accounting for the workers’ welfare losses due to job reductions following the relocation of firms. We characterize the optimal social clause policy both under domestic welfare maximization and from an efficiency point of view. We show that, on domestic welfare grounds, the case for a social clause policy is weaker the higher the domestic wage and the lower the foreign wage.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Regional Science and Urban Economics.

Volume (Year): 31 (2001)
Issue (Month): 6 (November)
Pages: 643-668

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Handle: RePEc:eee:regeco:v:31:y:2001:i:6:p:643-668
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  1. Boccard, Nicolas & van Ypersele, Tanguy & Wunsch, Pierre, 2003. "Comparative advantage and social protection," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 247-264, June.
  2. Isabel Grilo & Tito Cordella, 1998. "Globalization and Relocation in a Vertically Differentiated Industry," IMF Working Papers 98/48, International Monetary Fund.
  3. Barros, Pedro P & Cabral, Luis, 2000. "Competing for Foreign Direct Investment," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 8(2), pages 360-71, May.
  4. Mussa, Michael & Rosen, Sherwin, 1978. "Monopoly and product quality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 301-317, August.
  5. Brander, James A. & Spencer, Barbara J., 1987. "Foreign direct investment with unemployment and endogenous taxes and tariffs," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(3-4), pages 257-279, May.
  6. DREZE, Jacques H. & SNEESSENS, Henri, 1994. "Technical Development, Competition from Low-Wage Economies and Low-Skilled Unemployment," CORE Discussion Papers 1994036, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  7. Motta, Massimo & Thisse, Jacques-Francois, 1994. "Does environmental dumping lead to delocation?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(3-4), pages 563-576, April.
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