Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Trade and the distributional politics of international labour standards

Oslington, Paul (2005): Trade and the distributional politics of international labour standards.

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Abstract

This paper constructs a simple general equilibrium model of the trade and distributional effects of spreading advanced country international labour standards to developing countries. Labour standards (including minimum safety requirements, prohibition of prison and child labour, and rights to unionise) are represented as a floor to the cost of employing labour. The model shows how the spread of standards affects the terms of trade and pattern of international specialisation, and can shift unskilled unemployment from advanced to developing countries, redistribute income among groups of factor owners in different countries. Political support for labour standards is predicted to come from a coalition of advanced country unskilled workers with insecure jobs and the secure unskilled in developing countries. Opposition is predicted from owners of other factors. Overall country lobbying positions in international forums will depend on the relative strengths of the groups within the country.

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