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The economic case for international labour standards


  • Thomas I. Palley


This paper explores the economic case for international labour standards. Granting workers rights of free association and collective bargaining confers both static and dynamic economic efficiencies. Static efficiencies refer to one-time gains from improvements in economic practice. Dynamic efficiencies refer to gains from improvements to the growth path resulting from a shift away from a 'low road' development path to a 'high road' path. These efficiencies raise wages, employment and output in developing countries, and they can also benefit workers in developed countries. Labour standards are an institutional mechanism for raising the quality of growth in both developing and developed countries. In this sense, they are a 'win-win' institution. Copyright 2004, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:cambje:v:28:y:2004:i:1:p:21-36

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Erdem, Esra & Glyn, Andrew, 2001. " Job Deficits in UK Regions," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 63(0), pages 737-752, Special I.
    2. Robert Rowthorn, 2005. "Combined and Uneven Development: Reflections on the North-South Divide," Working Papers wp305, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.
    3. Singh, Ajit, 1977. "UK Industry and the World Economy: A Case of De-industrialisation?," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 1(2), pages 113-136, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Rémi Bazillier & Nicolas Sirven, 2006. "Les normes fondamentales du travail contribuent-elles à réduire les inégalités ?," Revue Française d'Économie, Programme National Persée, vol. 21(2), pages 111-146.
    3. van Staveren, I.P., 2005. "Five methodological approaches for research on gender and trade impacts," ISS Working Papers - General Series 19176, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS), The Hague.
    4. Stephanie Barrientos & Gary Gereffi & Arianna Rossi, 2012. "Economic and Social Upgrading in Global Production Networks: Developing a Framework for Analysis," Brooks World Poverty Institute Working Paper Series ctg-2010-03, BWPI, The University of Manchester.
    5. Yana van der Meulen Rodgers & Gunseli Berik, 2006. "Asia's Race to Capture Post-MFA Markets: A Snapshot of Labor Standards, Compliance, and Impacts on Competitiveness," Working Paper Series, Department of Economics, University of Utah 2006_02, University of Utah, Department of Economics.
    6. Robert Montgomery & Gregory Maggio, 2009. "Fostering Labor Rights in Developing Countries: An Investors’ Approach to Managing Labor Issues," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 87(1), pages 199-219, April.
    7. Antônio Albano De Freitas, 2016. "Crisis, Profit Rate And The Political Economy Of The Eurozone," Anais do XLII Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 42ndd Brazilian Economics Meeting] 010, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
    8. Thomas I. Palley, 2005. "Labour standards, democracy and wages: some cross-country evidence," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(7), pages 883-898.
    9. Günseli Berik & Yana Van Der Meulen Rodgers, 2010. "Options for enforcing labour standards: Lessons from Bangladesh And Cambodia," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(1), pages 56-85.
    10. Plank, Leonhard & Rossi, Arianna & Staritz, Cornelia, 2012. "Workers and social upgrading in "fast fashion": The case of the apparel industry in Morocco and Romania," Working Papers 33, Österreichische Forschungsstiftung für Internationale Entwicklung (ÖFSE) / Austrian Foundation for Development Research.
    11. repec:dau:papers:123456789/3202 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Mark Setterfield, 2017. "Modern (American) Capitalism: A Three Act Tragedy," Working Papers 1722, New School for Social Research, Department of Economics.

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