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Economic and Social Upgrading in Global Production Networks: Problems of Theory and Measurement

  • William Milberg
  • Deborah Winkler

Abstract The massive globalization of production led by large firms in industrialized countries, combined with the policy shift in developing countries toward export-oriented growth, has meant that economic development has increasingly become synonymous with “economic upgrading” within global production networks (GPNs), that is, moving into higher productivity and higher value-added aspects of production and export. There is much research on economic upgrading in global production networks, connecting economic growth and economic upgrading to international trade performance. There has been less analysis of what such upgrading means for living standards, including wages, work conditions, economic rights, gender equality and economic security. In this paper, we refer to improvements in these aspects of economic and social life as “social upgrading”. This paper reviews the ways in which economic and social upgrading in GPNs are measured. In this paper we focus mainly on developing countries. In the process we also scrutinize the theoretical connection between these two dimensions of upgrading within GPNs.

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Paper provided by BWPI, The University of Manchester in its series Brooks World Poverty Institute Working Paper Series with number ctg-2010-04.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:bwp:bwppap:ctg-2010-04
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  1. Arslan Razmi & Robert A. Blecker, 2006. "Developing Country Exports of Manufactures: Moving Up the Ladder to Escape the Fallacy of Composition?," Working Papers 2006-06, American University, Department of Economics.
  2. Michael Engman & Osamu Onodera & Enrico Pinali, 2007. "Export Processing Zones: Past and Future Role in Trade and Development," OECD Trade Policy Papers 53, OECD Publishing.
  3. Gunseli Berik, 2000. "Mature Export-Led Growth and Gender Wage Inequality in Taiwan," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(3), pages 1-26.
  4. William Milberg, Rudiger von Arnim, 2007. "WP 2006-3 U.S. Offshoring: Implications for Economic Growth and Income Distribution," SCEPA working paper series. SCEPA's main areas of research are macroeconomic policy, inequality and poverty, and globalization. 2006-3, Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis (SCEPA), The New School.
  5. repec:ilo:esbook:ebook11 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Humphrey, John & Chen, Martha, 2004. "Upgrading in global value chains," ILO Working Papers 369852, International Labour Organization.
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