Labor Standards and Economic Integration in the European Union: an Empirical Analysis
This study is motivated by frequent calls to harmonize labor standards across countries, which result from the fear that economic integration (and the accompanying liberalization of trade flows) will lead to an erosion of working conditions, as countries deliberately try to reduce labor standards in order to maintain competitiveness. We empirically examine the conventional wisdom that labour standards are important determinants of trade performance and whether there has been a “race to the bottom” of standards across EU-15 countries with deeper integration. Our panel data estimates for the period 1980-2001 provide mixed evidence regarding the conventional wisdom and “σ-convergence” in labor standards.
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