Global labor policy through trade has begun to receive growing attention with the inclusion of labor provisions in preferential trade agreements (PTAs). Until recently there has been a shortage of available data that would adequately capture the variation that exists with respect to the scope and stringency of labor provisions, preventing scholars and practitioners from addressing key questions about the design and effects of the trade‐labor linkage. This paper introduces a new dataset covering 487 PTAs from 1990 to 2015 coded against 140 distinct items pertaining to six main categories, presenting – to our knowledge – the most rigorous and fine‐grained mapping of labor provisions. It also offers the first systematic description of key trends in the design and occurrence of those commitments. Our study shows that labor provisions have not only expanded in terms of their content and participating countries but that labor provisions have, although to a varying degree, also become more stringent over time. The provisions that have across all PTAs increased most steadily are the ones related to the institutional framework set up for the monitoring and implementation of labor commitments, becoming more specialized and more inclusive of third party involvement over time.
Comment on data set: Elliott, K. A. (2019), Assessing Trade–Labor Linkages: A Big Step Forward. Glob Policy, 10: 151-152. doi:10.1111/1758-5899.12644
The Labour Rights Indicators are based on coding the findings of selected nine sources and compiling this information in a readily accessible and concise manner. It is designed to be used both by practitioners and researchers. It builds on five basic elements: the premises of definitional validity, reproducibility and transparency; the 108 violation type used to code violations in law and practice; the textual sources selected for coding; the general and source-specific coding rules; and the rules to convert the coded information into normalized indicators. The country profiles provide detailed and verifiable information over time that can be easily traced back to the original textual source.
Is compliance with international labour standards good for economic development, or does non-compliance give countries a competitive advantage? Are we faced with a ‘race to the bottom’ with respect to labour standards?...As old as these questions are, we still lack anything like definitive answers to them. Knowing the answers should not call into question the objective of improving compliance with international labour standards, but rather inform the strategy by which this is pursued. In spite of there being a fair amount of research, a key bottleneck in moving forward is adequate measures for many international labour standards, particularly for freedom of association and collective bargaining (FACB) rights which are intrinsically difficult to measure. To address this gap, new labour rights indicators and an accompanying dataset, both focusing on FACB rights, have been launched by the Center for Global Workers’ Rights at Penn State University together with the Global Labour University.