Tuesday, April 30, 2013

On Labor Power and Workers' Rights

. Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Hot off the presses from International Studies Quarterly is this article (ungated version) by Darin Christensen and Eric Wibbels, "Labor Standards, Labor Endowments, and the Evolution of Inequality":

Proponents often recommend high labor standards as a means of reducing inequality between and within countries. Opponents suggest that labor standards exacerbate international and domestic inequalities. In this paper, we forward a simple argument whereby the impact of higher labor standards on domestic inequality depends on a country's labor endowment. We hypothesize that where labor is abundant, higher standards will exacerbate inequality. Where labor is scarce, higher labor standards might lower inequality. In both cases, the impact of labor standards on inequality work through an employment and wage effect. Using newly available data on labor standards around the world from 1981 to 2000, we provide evidence largely consistent with our hypotheses. Higher labor standards do, indeed, exacerbate inequality in labor-abundant economies. On the other hand, higher labor standards lower inequality in labor-scarce economies. We discuss the implications of these findings for work on labor market insiders and outsiders as well as the political economy of development.
Bangladesh is quite abundant in labor. Thus, the expectation is that increasing workplace regulations would worsen inequality.

3 comments:

LFC said...

thanks for the tip to this article.

when i see in an abstract of a large-N article the phrase "evidence largely consistent w our hypotheses," a small cautionary alarm sounds. I am not v quantish, as you know, but i do occasionally look at articles of this sort and often the evidence, to the sometimes admittedly limited extent i can evaluate it, strikes me as underwhelming. not always, but sometimes.
i'm not judging this part. article, of course, b.c haven't read it, just making a general (and obvs. subjective) observation.

Kindred Winecoff said...

I understand that. But Wibbels is quite good usually, and careful, and not at all a right-wing hack. If anything, I'd bet this result was not what he wanted to find.

(Kind of like Locke in the CT thread.)

Anonymous said...

Labor standards that would prevent deaths are better than less poverty, yet more inequality. If all boats are rising, yet some more faster than others, this seems much better than people dying in factories because of bad labor standards. What's your point, Kid Winey?

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