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Globalisation, labour standards and economic development

  • Ajit Singh
  • Ann Zammitt

In recent years a few advanced countries have been advocating multilateral rules permitting punitive trade measures to be taken against countries not upholding core labour standards. The mainly developing target countries have rebutted these initiatives which they argue are protectionist, in intent and in effect. Whilst closely examining the economic arguments in this controversy, this paper is also concerned with the broader political and moral dimensions. The authors suggest that developing countries are committed to improving core and other labour standards; the reason why they are unable to implement many of these forthwith is not because of the wickedness of their governments, but essentially their economic circumstances and the structure of their economies. The paper concludes that core ILO Conventions 87 and 98 should be re-drafted to take into account the economic conditions of developing countries.

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Paper provided by ESRC Centre for Business Research in its series ESRC Centre for Business Research - Working Papers with number wp257.

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Date of creation: Mar 2003
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Handle: RePEc:cbr:cbrwps:wp257
Note: PRO-2
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.cbr.cam.ac.uk/

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  1. Davis, Donald R., 1998. "Technology, unemployment, and relative wages in a global economy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(9), pages 1613-1633, November.
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  9. Kaushik Basu, 1999. "Child Labor: Cause, Consequence, and Cure, with Remarks on International Labor Standards," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(3), pages 1083-1119, September.
  10. J. David Richardson, 1995. "Income Inequality and Trade: How to Think, What to Conclude," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 33-55, Summer.
  11. Donald R. Davis, 1996. "Does European Unemployment Prop up American Wages?," NBER Working Papers 5620, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. 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.
  13. Hayri, Aydin, 1997. "Debt Relief," CEPR Discussion Papers 1701, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Sonia Bhalotra, 2003. "Child Labour in Africa," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 4, OECD Publishing.
  15. Gary Burtless, 1995. "International Trade and the Rise in Earnings Inequality," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(2), pages 800-816, June.
  16. Wood Júnior, Thomaz, 1995. "Workers," RAE - Revista de Administração de Empresas, FGV-EAESP Escola de Administração de Empresas de São Paulo (Brazil), vol. 35(2), January.
  17. Singh, Ajit, 1989. "Third World Competition and De-industrialisation in Advanced Countries," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(1), pages 103-20, March.
  18. Richard B. Freeman, 1995. "Are Your Wages Set in Beijing?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 15-32, Summer.
  19. Slaughter, Matthew J, 1998. "International Trade and Labour-Market Outcomes: Results, Questions, and Policy Options," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(450), pages 1452-62, September.
  20. Alex Izurieta & Ajit Singh, 2010. "Does Fast Growth in India and China Help or Harm US Workers?," Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(1), pages 115-141.
  21. Singh, Ajit, 1995. "Institutional requirements for full employment in advanced economies," MPRA Paper 54990, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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