Labor

Economic development without pre-requisites: How Bolivian firms met food safety standards and dominated the global brazil-nut market

Economic development without pre-requisites: How Bolivian firms met food safety standards and dominated the global brazil-nut market
World Development

Coslovsky, Salo
09/16/2013

Brazilian firms used to dominate the brazil nut (BN) market to such an extent that the product still carries the country’s name. Presently, 77% of all BNs are processed and exported by Bolivia, a country with far fewer resources than its neighbor. This paper analyzes the impact of EU regulations on the global BN market. It finds that Bolivian producers prevailed because they joined forces to revamp their manufacturing practices and meet EU sanitary standards despite continued mutual mistrust. In contrast, Brazilian producers have been unable to work cooperatively and lost access to the European market entirely.

Flying under the radar? The state and the enforcement of labor laws in Brazil

Flying under the radar? The state and the enforcement of labor laws in Brazil
Oxford Development Studies

Coslovsky, Salo
09/16/2013

In recent years, developing countries have deregulated, privatized and liberalized their economies. Surprisingly, they have also retained or even strengthened their labor regulations. These contrasting policy orientations create a novel challenge without obvious solutions. To understand how developing country states can ensure reasonable levels of labor standards without compromising the ability of domestic firms to compete, this paper examines how labor inspectors and prosecutors intervened in four troublesome industries in Brazil. It finds that regulatory enforcement agents use their discretion and legal powers to realign incentives, reshape interests, and redistribute the risks, costs and benefits of compliance across a tailor-made assemblage of public, private and non-profit agents adjacent to the violations. By fulfilling this role, these agents become the foot-soldiers of a post-neoliberal or neo-developmental state.

Moroccan Migrants as Unlikely Captains of Industry: Remittances, Financial Intermediation, and La Banque Centrale Populaire

Moroccan Migrants as Unlikely Captains of Industry: Remittances, Financial Intermediation, and La Banque Centrale Populaire
In S. Eckstein, ed. Immigrant Impact in their Homelands. Durham: Duke University Press.

Iskander, N.
09/06/2013

The impact that remittances – the monies that migrants send home – have on the development on migrant-sending economies is a matter of considerable debate. This essay presents the case of Morocco and its state-controlled bank, La Banque Centrale Populaire (BCP), to argue that the major determinant of remittance impact on development is the quality and breadth of financial intermediation to which migrants have access. By providing a set of financial tools that allowed migrants to deposit, save, and invest with the institution, the BCP, since 1969, simultaneously made remittances funds available the migrants for their personal expenditures and to the Moroccan government for large-scale industrial investment. However, to create financial services for migrants with an appeal broad enough to bring significant amounts of remittance liquidity into the banking sector, BCP had to engage migrants in an open and collaborative process of product design. Ultimately, this paper argues, migrants’ involvement in the design of financial products enabled them to use the banking system to redirect remittances resources to rural and semi-rural areas most migrants were from, and to amend the industrial development priorities of the Moroccan government.

Learning in Place: Immigrant Spatial and Temporal Strategies for Occupational Advancement

Learning in Place: Immigrant Spatial and Temporal Strategies for Occupational Advancement
Economic Geography. 89 (1): 53-75.

Iskander, N., C. Riordan, & N. Lowe.
09/06/2013

Studies of low-wage workers have long recognized the role of space in mediating access to employment. Significantly less attention has been paid to the ways in which space informs workers' ability to develop the attributes that would make them more employable. In this article, we address this gap through an examination of how immigrant workers use the relative spatial organization of residence and production to cultivate the skills that enable them to shift out of low-wage occupations. We also argue that workers' spatial job market strategies have an important, but often overlooked, temporal aspect: workers use space over time not only to shape their access to jobs but also to create breathing room for learning skills that enable them to improve their employment trajectories over the long term. Drawing on a multiyear ethnographic study of Mexican immigrants in downtown Philadelphia, we show that immigrant workers used the functional proximity among the restaurant industry, small-scale residential construction work pertaining to housing renovation, and the neighborhoods where they lived to develop skill sets that enabled them to shift into higher-wage construction jobs. In essence, these workers knitted together two seemingly separate industries, such that they could use their employment time in one for learning in and about the other. Our study suggests that interventions that curtail immigrants' mobility may have implications that are far more serious than limiting immediate access to jobs: these measures may undercut immigrants' strategies for developing the skills required for long-term occupational mobility and advancement.

Moving Skill: The Incorporation of Mexican Immigrants in the US and Mexican Construction Industries

Moving Skill: The Incorporation of Mexican Immigrants in the US and Mexican Construction Industries
In Y. Kutznetsov, ed. How Talent Abroad Supports Growth, Innovation and Institutional Development at Home. Washington D.C.: Migration Policy Institute.

Iskander, N. & N. Lowe.
09/06/2013

Building Job Quality from the Inside-Out: Immigrants, Skill, and Jobs in the Construction Industry

Building Job Quality from the Inside-Out: Immigrants, Skill, and Jobs in the Construction Industry
Industrial Labor Relations Review. 66(4): 785-807.

Iskander, N. and N. Lowe
07/01/2013

Using an ethnographic case study of Mexican immigrant construction workers in two U.S. cities and in Mexico, the authors illustrate the contribution of immigrant skill as a resource for changing workplace practices. As a complement to explanations that situate the protection of job quality and the defense of skill to external institutions, the authors show that immigrants use collective learning practices to improve job quality from inside the work environment—that is to say from the inside-out. The authors also find that immigrants use collective skill-building practices to negotiate for improvements to their jobs; however, their ability to do so depends on the institutions that organize production locally. Particular attention is given to the quality of those industry institutions, noting that where they are more malleable, immigrant workers gain more latitude to alter their working conditions and their prospects for advancement.

Policy Influence, Agency-Specific Expertise, and Exit in the Federal Service

Policy Influence, Agency-Specific Expertise, and Exit in the Federal Service
Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, v. 23, n. 2 (2013). doi: 10.1093/jopart/mus044.

Anthony M. Bertelli and David E. Lewis
03/26/2013

Executive turnover influences agency performance, policy implementation, and ultimately the success of legislative delegations. We argue that turnover intention is a function of labor market opportunities—specifically, outside employment opportunities and the acquisition of nontransferable, agency-specific human capital—as well as perceptions about the way in which political decisions have affected federal executive influence over policymaking. Statistical evidence for these claims is provided using data from the 2007–2008 Survey on the Future of Government Service, the largest ever survey of US federal executives. Agency-specific human capital drives down turnover intention in our estimates. The availability of outside options has the opposite effect except in cases where the executive has invested a lot in agency-specific human capital. Turnover intention increases when an agency’s senior executives have little influence over policy. We draw out the implications of these findings for our understanding of federal labor markets, the construction of civil service systems, and the politicization of executive branch agencies.

Migration and development, global South / Mexico-Morocco

Migration and development, global South / Mexico-Morocco
I. Ness, ed. The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration. Wiley Blackwell

Iskander, N.
02/04/2013

In recent years, the relationship between migration and development has received renewed attention, and analysts, policy-makers, and development experts have returned to the question of how to use emigration to foster economic growth in countries and communities of origin. The main thrust of this inquiry has focused on how to use remittances – the monies that migrants send back home – to support economic activity (de la Garza & Orozco 2002; Orozco 2002; Munzele Maimbo & Ratha 2005; Ratha 2005). However, among countries with high emigration rates, a handful of governments have expanded their emphasis past remittances to create policies that link emigration and development in a more comprehensive way (Castles & Delgado Wise 2008). Morocco and Mexico feature prominently among them. Both countries have policies to link emigration with local and national economic transformation that reach beyond a narrow focus on remittances, and that, more importantly, are creative, participatory, and dynamic (Iskander 2010). At their outset, however, the policies were as single-minded in their focus on remittances as any of the more mercenary examples of today.

State Unemployment Insurance Trust Solvency and Benefit Generosity.

State Unemployment Insurance Trust Solvency and Benefit Generosity.
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 32(3): 536-53.

Smith, Daniel L. and Jeffrey B. Wenger.
01/01/2013

This paper employs panel estimators with data on the 50 American states for the years 1963 to 2006 to test the relationship between Unemployment Insurance (UI) trust fund solvency and UI benefit generosity. We find that both average and maximum weekly UI benefit amounts, as ratios to the average weekly wage, are higher in states and in years with more highly solvent trust funds. This result holds after controlling for state-level unemployment rate, Gross Domestic Product (GDP), population growth, legislative political ideology, partisan control of the executive and legislative branches, and gubernatorial election year across multiple specifications, including fixed-effects and dynamic panel estimators. We propose a theory of moderate coupling as the causal mechanism, whereby UI program benefits and financing are directly related but are not as tightly linked as in other social insurance programs, such as Medicaid. The findings have important policy implications for the funding of states’ UI systems. As a consequence of moderate coupling, the countercyclicality of the UI program is dampened. 

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