Could international labour rights play a role in US trade?
During its last complete business cycle, from 2001 to 2007, the USA 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 labour rights around the world. Proponents argue that higher labour standards would boost US exports by increasing income growth abroad and reduce US 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 USA and abroad. In this paper, I combine US trade data with data on international labour standards and other relevant economic variables to study any links between labour rights abroad and US trade. The results suggest that the USA would have benefited from more exports if there had been better worker rights around the world, but that labour rights would not have had any measurable impact on US imports. That is, the promotion of better worker rights around the world could contribute to smaller external imbalances without impeding international trade flows. Copyright The Author 2010. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Cambridge Political Economy Society. All rights reserved., Oxford University Press.
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Volume (Year): 35 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
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