Trade-based diffusion of labor rights: A panel study, 1986-2002

Brian Greenhill, Layna Mosley, Aseem Prakash

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

191 Scopus citations

Abstract

This article investigates the nature of the linkages between trade and labor rights in developing countries. Specifically, we hypothesize that a California effect serves to transmit superior labor standards from importing to exporting countries, in a manner similar to the transmission of environmental standards. We maintain that, all else being equal, the labor standards of a given country are influenced not by its overall level of trade openness, but by the labor standards of its trading partners. We evaluate our hypothesis using a panel of 90 developing countries over the period 19862002, and we separately examine the extent to which the labor laws and the actual labor practices of the countries are influenced by those of their export destinations. We find that strong legal protections of collective labor rights in a country's export destinations are associated with more stringent labor laws in the exporting country. This California effect finding is, however, weaker in the context of labor rights practices, highlighting the importance of distinguishing between formal legislation and actual implementation of labor rights.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)669-690
Number of pages22
JournalAmerican Political Science Review
Volume103
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2009
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

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