Labor union strength and human development in East Asia and Latin America

  • James W. McGuire
Article

Abstract

Ordinary least squares multiple regression is used to test the impact of labor movement strength on growth, income distribution, and premature mortality in sixteen East Asian and Latin American countries. Labor movement strength is measured by a new index based on information from the International Labour Organisation. Controlling for other relevant variables, the Labor Strength Index is found to have a weak positive effect on growth, a weak negative effect on income equality and on infant survival and life expectancy levels, and a strong negative effect on infant survival and life expectancy progress. One reason for the negative overall effect of labor strength on human development may be that unions, together with actors representing better-off urban groups, often induce governments to enact urbanbiased and formal sector-biased policies that contribute to the neglect or impoverishment of the rural poor and shanty-town dwellers.

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