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Economic and social upgrading in global value chains: Analysis of horticulture, apparel, tourism and mobile telephones


  • Thomas Bernhardt
  • William Milberg


Abstract We adopt a ‘parsimonious’ approach to measuring economic and social upgrading over 1990-2009 in four global value chains – apparel, mobile phones, agrofoods and tourism – based entirely on data published by international institutions. Economic upgrading is defined as a combination of growth in export market shares and export unit values. Social upgrading is a combination of changes in employment and real wages. We find considerable variation across sectors in the relation between economic and social change. ‘Downgrading’ is not uncommon, especially in the social realm. Economic upgrading is often not associated with social upgrading, but outside of the tourism sector, social upgrading occurs almost always when economic upgrading is also observed. This paper provides a comprehensive report on the findings in the four sectors and detailed statistical appendixes. A summary presentation without appendixes can be found in Capturing the Gains Working Paper 2011/07.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas Bernhardt & William Milberg, 2012. "Economic and social upgrading in global value chains: Analysis of horticulture, apparel, tourism and mobile telephones," Brooks World Poverty Institute Working Paper Series ctg-2011-06, BWPI, The University of Manchester.
  • Handle: RePEc:bwp:bwppap:ctg-2011-06

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    1. William MILBERG & Deborah WINKLER, 2011. "Economic and social upgrading in global production networks: Problems of theory and measurement," International Labour Review, International Labour Organization, vol. 150(3-4), pages 341-365, December.
    2. Mas-Colell, Andreu & Whinston, Michael D. & Green, Jerry R., 1995. "Microeconomic Theory," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195102680, June.
    3. Humphrey, John. & Chen, Martha., 2004. "Upgrading in global value chains," ILO Working Papers 993698523402676, International Labour Organization.
    4. Ner Artola & Eduardo Zepeda & Roberta Rabellotti & Raquel Gomes & Alessia Amighini & Claudio Maggi Campos & Arlindo Villaschi Filho & Carlo Pietrobelli & José Eduardo Cassiolato & Mario Davide Parrill, 2006. "Upgrading to Compete: Global Value Chains, Clusters, and SMEs in Latin America," IDB Publications (Books), Inter-American Development Bank, number 13158 edited by Roberta Rabellotti & Carlo Pietrobelli, February.
    5. repec:ilo:ilowps:369852 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Gary Gereffi & Evgeni Evgeniev, 2008. "Textile and Apparel Firms in Turkey and Bulgaria: Exports, Local Upgrading and Dependency," Economic Studies journal, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences - Economic Research Institute, issue 3, pages 148-179.
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