Globalization and Labor Standards Around the World: New Evidence from Survey Data

Thursday, 2 July 2015: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
TW1.1.03 (Tower One)
Dan Berliner, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
This paper analyzes labor standards around the world using a detailed new source of cross-national data, based on surveys conducted of both the general population and issue experts in 96 countries by the World Justice Project. Responses to 26 different survey questions are used to create new measures of both freedom of association and collective bargaining (FACB) rights, and of the monitoring and enforcement of labor regulations. While these two measures are highly correlated with each other, there are important exceptions where they diverge. I first evaluate the benefits and shortcomings of these new measures as compared to frequently used alternatives, and then use this new data source to evaluate several existing hypotheses that scholars of globalization and labor standards have put forward. I find that overall global economic integration is associated with stronger labor enforcement, but not stronger FACB rights. However, economic integration with high-income countries, where social demands by key stakeholders tend to be stronger, is associated with stronger FACB rights, offering some support to “California effect” arguments. More democratic countries and countries which have ratified more ILO conventions also tend to have stronger FACB rights, but not stronger enforcement. Countries governed by leftist political parties, on the other hand, tend to have stronger enforcement but not stronger FACB rights. The strongest predictor of both measures, however, is simply the level of economic development.