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Working Paper 46


This paper reviews the critical issues concerning the establishment of a global system of labor standards. Global labor standards have gained a renewed prominence in policy debates with the rise of the new international division of labor, in which developing countries are producing an ever-increasing share of the world’s manufactured exports. This paper takes a close look at the research and theories that inform the current debates. In particular, it summarizes the arguments in support of global standards, evaluates the threat of unintended negative consequences, examines gender-specific issues relating to low-wage labor and informal employment, and discusses past and present developments in implementation strategies.

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