Investigating labor standards in developing countries in a globalized world




This project takes an in-depth look at the various venues through which globalization can impact labor standards in developing countries.


Unprecedented growth in international commerce between developed and developing economies over the course of the last four decades has brought to the forefront issues concerning the social aspects of globalization. The presumption that the fruits of globalization trickle down to the poor through improvements in labor standards in the developing world is being challenged. These global labor standard issues include child labor, child labor of the worst forms, wage and employment security, and asymmetry in bargaining power between workers and employers. The research challenges are: (i) taking stock and making sense of existing international differences in labor standards, (ii) deriving policy implications whether externally imposed by international pressure or homegrown, and (iii) understanding the role of trade liberalization in the process.


This project has collected and generated a number of new cross-country databases: child labor under debt bondage; international trafficking of women and children; and time series international adoption patterns of the core labor standards conventions of the International Labor Organization. The project has produced a series of journal publications, commissioned papers, and book entries in each of these areas. In each case, the nuanced role of globalization (whether in terms of goods, people, or capital flows) is being addressed. Ongoing work in this area has also included wage and employment security issues.


The project takes a standard-by-standard approach and has so far covered the grounds of child labor under debt bondage, international trafficking of women and children, international adoption patterns of the core labor standards conventions of the International Labor Organization, and wage and employment security.

Submitted by: 

  • Chau, Nancy H

Researchers involved: 

  • Akee, Randy
  • Bedi, Arjun
  • Basu, Arnab
  • Chau, Ho Y

Organizations involved: 

  • Institute for the Study of Labor
  • Center for Development Research