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Bibliotheca Hagiographica Graeca (BHG), Vol. I: by Halkin, Francois

By Halkin, Francois

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Indeed, many studies show that low wages and poor working conditions do not necessarily attract multinationals to relocate in developing countries. Instead, ensuring basic worker rights may well be a precondition for successful growth strategies, rather than the outcome of economic reforms to increase efficiency. Although security will be costlier in the short run, it represents an investment with considerable beneficial side effects. As the chapters by Chen and Tokman note, the informal sector is large, very heterogeneous and a significant source of employment in developing countries, particularly for women and youth.

However, the supposed trade-off between economic efficiency and worker security may not be as commonly depicted. There are good reasons to believe that balancing flexibility and security may deliver better macroeconomic performance and employment growth than maximum flexibility. Low wages and poor worhng conditions for workers may not be desirable for encouraging work, commitment, intensity and productivity, all desired by firms. Fairer labour contracts - which provide employment stability, unemployment benefits and rights to training and education - may enhance worker commitment and productivity to improve both firm profitability and worker welfare.

There is no automatism in that different sets of policies would automatically achieve all three requirements (Tinbergen's rule that the number of policy instruments must at least be equal to the number of policy targets remains as relevant as 50 years ago; see Tinbergen, 1970 [1952]). A greater sense of policy coherence is therefore calledfor. We can distinguish policy coherence at, and between, three dzlqerent levels in order to achieve an internationalfinancial system that is more cogent of concernsfor employment and labour as discussed above, namely: (i) policies in industrialized countries; (ii) the set of multilateral rules that has been developed since the Second World War; and (iii) policies in developing countries.

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