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Resolving the paradox of social standards and export competitiveness

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  • Stephen DeLoach
  • Jayoti Das

Abstract

Over the last decade there has been increasing international pressure on countries to raise 'social standards' (i.e. production standards based on environmental and labor conditions). Currently, the World Trade Organization does not allow countries to impose minimum standards on imports based on environmental or labor standards because it is assumed to undermine competition. There is no consensus in the empirical literature, however, to support this claim. In fact, the evidence suggests that while stronger environmental standards hurt competitiveness, stronger labor standards do the opposite. This paper offers one possible explanation for this paradox. In a simple model of incomplete information, externally imposed standards may either increase or decrease the competitiveness of infant firms from developing countries depending on the degree of complementarity between the standard and the production of high-quality goods.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen DeLoach & Jayoti Das, 2008. "Resolving the paradox of social standards and export competitiveness," The Journal of International Trade & Economic Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(4), pages 467-483.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jitecd:v:17:y:2008:i:4:p:467-483
    DOI: 10.1080/09638190802249821
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    asymmetric information; competitiveness; product quality; production standards;

    JEL classification:

    • F18 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Environment
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality

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