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Racing to the bottom? Chinese development projects and trade union involvement in Africa

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  • Isaksson, Ann-Sofie

    () (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)

  • Kotsadam, Andreas

    (The Frisch Centre; University of Oslo, Department of Economics)

Abstract

Chinese firms operating in Africa are often accused of violating international labour standards and not adhering with national labour laws. Considering China’s tendency to maintain control over development projects throughout the entire implementation phase, using Chinese contractors for work performed in the recipient countries, the present paper investigates whether China impacts African labour practices in their capacity as a donor. Specifically, we use a new data material allowing for systematic quantitative analysis of Chinese development finance to investigate whether Chinese development projects affect trade union involvement. Matching geo-referenced data on the subnational allocation of Chinese development projects to Africa over the 2000-2012 period with 41,902 survey respondents across 18 African countries, our estimation strategy relies on comparing the trade union involvement of individuals who live near a site where a Chinese project is being implemented at the time of the interview to those of individuals living near a site where a Chinese project will appear in the future, but where implementation had yet to be initiated at the time of the survey. The results consistently indicate that Chinese development projects – unlike the projects of other major donors – discourage trade union involvement in the local area.

Suggested Citation

  • Isaksson, Ann-Sofie & Kotsadam, Andreas, 2017. "Racing to the bottom? Chinese development projects and trade union involvement in Africa," Working Papers in Economics 699, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0699
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Bluhm, Richard & Dreher, Axel & Fuchs, Andreas & Parks, Brad & Strange, Austin & Tierney, Michael J., 2020. "Connective Financing - Chinese Infrastructure Projects and the Diffusion of Economic Activity in Developing Countries," CEPR Discussion Papers 14818, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Ann-Sofie Isaksson & Andreas Kotsadam, 2020. "Chinese Aid to Africa: Distinguishing Features and Local Effects," CESifo Forum, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 21(02), pages 27-31, July.
    3. Axel Dreher & Andreas Fuchs & Roland Hodler & Bradley C. Parks & Paul A. Raschky & Michael J. Tierney, 2019. "Is Favoritism a Threat to Chinese Aid Effectiveness? A Subnational Analysis of Chinese Development Projects," CESifo Working Paper Series 7739, CESifo.
    4. Knutsen, Tora & Kotsadam, Andreas, 2020. "The political economy of aid allocation: Aid and incumbency at the local level in Sub Saharan Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 127(C).
    5. Eichenauer, Vera Z. & Fuchs, Andreas & Brueckner, Lutz, 2018. "The Effects of Trade, Aid, and Investment on China's Image in Developing Countries," Working Papers 0646, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
    6. Dreher, Axel & Fuchs, Andreas & Hodler, Roland & Parks, Bradley C. & Raschky, Paul A. & Tierney, Michael J., 2019. "African leaders and the geography of China's foreign assistance," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 140(C), pages 44-71.
    7. Martorano, Bruno & Metzger, Laura & Sanfilippo, Marco, 2020. "Chinese development assistance and household welfare in Sub-Saharan Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 129(C).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    China; aid; trade unions; Africa;

    JEL classification:

    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • F35 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Aid
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O55 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Africa

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