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Labour Standards and the 'Race to the Bottom': Rethinking Globalization and Workers' Rights from Developmental and Solidaristic Perspectives

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  • Ajit Singh

Abstract

There is a protracted stalemate between rich (the North) and poor (the South) countries over the question of minimum labour standards in developing economies. This paper is a sequel to Singh and Zammit (2000). It considers afresh key issues in the controversy. While fully recognizing the moral, political, and philosophical dimensions of this complex issue, the paper concentrates on the central economic question of the 'race to the bottom'. It emphasizes the difficulties of establishing labour standards in the vast informal sectors in developing countries and suggests that the ILO conventions 87 and 98 should be amended to reflect properly these concerns. It also argues that ILO core conventions should be broadened to include the right to a decent living. The overall conclusion is that labour standards are important indicators of economic development, but their promotion is best achieved in a non-coercive and supportive international environment such as that provided by the ILO. Copyright 2004, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Ajit Singh, 2004. "Labour Standards and the 'Race to the Bottom': Rethinking Globalization and Workers' Rights from Developmental and Solidaristic Perspectives," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(1), pages 85-104, Spring.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:oxford:v:20:y:2004:i:1:p:85-104
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Timothy Besley & Robin Burgess, 2004. "Can Labor Regulation Hinder Economic Performance? Evidence from India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 91-134.
    2. Kimberly Ann Elliott & Richard B. Freeman, 2003. "Can Labor Standards Improve under Globalization?," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 338.
    3. Blanchflower, D. & Slaughter, M., 1998. "The Causes and Consequences of Changing Income Inequality: W(h)ither the Debate?," Papers 27, Centre for Economic Performance & Institute of Economics.
    4. Glyn, A. & Hughes, A. & Lipietz, A. & Singh, A., 1988. "The Rise And Fall Of The Golden Age," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 884, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    5. Drusilla K. Brown & Alan V. Deardorff & Robert M. Stern, 2001. "Child Labor: Theory, Evidence and Policy," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0111, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Alan Muller & Ans Kolk, 2009. "CSR Performance in Emerging Markets Evidence from Mexico," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 85(2), pages 325-337, April.
    2. Blanton, Robert G. & Blanton, Shannon Lindsey & Peksen, Dursun, 2015. "Financial Crises and Labor: Does Tight Money Loosen Labor Rights?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 1-12.
    3. Shirkosh, Mehdi, 2005. "The Case for an International Minimum Wage in the Context of Free Trade," MPRA Paper 2463, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Asian Development Bank (ADB), 2013. "Good Global Economic and Social Practices to Promote Gender Equality in the Labor Market," ADB Reports RPT136184-3, Asian Development Bank (ADB), revised 31 Mar 2014.
    5. Singh, Ajit, 2007. "Globalization and Industrial Revolutions in India and China: Implications for Advanced and Developing Economies and for National and International Policies," MPRA Paper 24286, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Elissa Braunstein, 2011. "Foreign Direct Investment and Development from a Gender Perspective," Chapters,in: The Handbook of Globalisation, Second Edition, chapter 10 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    7. Hecock, R. Douglas & Jepsen, Eric M., 2013. "Should Countries Engage in a Race to the Bottom? The Effect of Social Spending on FDI," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 156-164.
    8. repec:ilo:ilowps:462650 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Ajit Singh, 2012. "Globalisation and the Regulation of FDI: Recent Proposals," Chapters,in: Research Handbook on International Financial Regulation, chapter 10 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    10. Ananya Reed & Darryl Reed, 2009. "Partnerships for Development: Four Models of Business Involvement," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 90(1), pages 3-37, May.
    11. Ajit Singh, 2005. "FDI, Globalisation and Economic Development - Towards Reforming National and International Rules of the Game," Working Papers wp304, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.
    12. Brown, W., 2006. "The Influence of Product Markets on Industrial Relations," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0652, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    13. Faundez, Julio., 2005. "A view on international labour standards, labour law and MSEs," ILO Working Papers 994302953402676, International Labour Organization.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J80 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - General
    • J83 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Workers' Rights
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General

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