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Labor Standards and Trade Agreements

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  • Robert M. Stern

    (University of Michigan)

Abstract

There is a wide disparity of views on issues of international labor standards. Labor and social activists are concerned about the increased imports from countries in which labor standards are ostensibly not enforced at a sufficiently high level. They fear that these imports will be detrimental to wages and employment conditions in the industrialized importing countries and that workers in the developing countries will be exploited, their wages suppressed, and that they will be subjected to abusive work conditions. This paper explores these different views and the available options for addressing the issues involved. The paper begins with the definition and scope of labor standards and then turns to theoretical aspects of the economic effects of labor standards and a summarizes the empirical evidence on the effects on wages, trade, and foreign direct investment, and the role of interest groups. Global, regional, national/unilateral, and other arrangements for the monitoring and enforcement of labor standards are discussed and implications for policy presented

Suggested Citation

  • Robert M. Stern, 2003. "Labor Standards and Trade Agreements," Working Papers 496, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
  • Handle: RePEc:mie:wpaper:496
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    File URL: http://fordschool.umich.edu/rsie/workingpapers/Papers476-500/r496.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Paul Brenton & Miriam Manchin, 2003. "Making EU Trade Agreements Work: The Role of Rules of Origin," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, pages 755-769.
    2. Drusilla K. Brown, 2001. "Labor Standards: Where Do They Belong on the International Trade Agenda?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, pages 89-112.
    3. Drusilla K. Brown & Alan V. Deardorff & Robert M. Stern, 2009. "The Effects of Multinational Production on Wages and Working Conditions in Developing Countries," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: Globalization And International Trade Policies, chapter 17, pages 623-687 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    4. Drusilla K. Brown, 2000. "International Trade and Core Labour Standards: A Survey of the Recent Literature," OECD Labour Market and Social Policy Occasional Papers 43, OECD Publishing.
    5. Steven Berry & James Levinsohn & Ariel Pakes, 1995. "Voluntary Export Restraints on Automobiles: Evaluating a Strategic TradePolicy," NBER Working Papers 5235, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Drusilla K. Brown, 2001. "Labor Standards: Where Do They Belong on the International Trade Agenda?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, pages 89-112.
    7. Drusilla K. Brown, 2000. "International Trade and Core Labour Standards: A Survey of the Recent Literature," OECD Labour Market and Social Policy Occasional Papers 43, OECD Publishing.
    8. Oppers, Stefan Erik, 2000. "A model of the bimetallic system," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 517-533, October.
    9. Drusilla Brown & Alan Deardorff & Robert Stern, 1998. "Trade and Labor Standards," Open Economies Review, Springer, pages 171-194.
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    Cited by:

    1. Carlos Felipe Jaramillo & Daniel Lederman & Maurizio Bussolo & David Gould & Andrew Mason, 2006. "Challenges of CAFTA : Maximizing the Benefits for Central America," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 7127.

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