Raising the Global Floor: Dismantling the Myth That We Can't Afford Good Working Conditions for Everyone

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Overview


News stories on the impact of job loss appear daily in the media. Less reported is that working conditions in many countries around the world have deteriorated as rapidly as jobs have been lost—and this affects ten times as many people. Working conditions significantly impact our health, the amount of time we can spend with family, our options during momentous life events (such as the birth of a child or the death of a parent), and whether we keep or lose a job when the unexpected occurs. Inexplicably, the global community has nearly universally accepted the argument that any country that guarantees a floor of decent working conditions will suffer higher unemployment and will be less competitive.

Raising the Global Floor shatters this widely held view by presenting the first ever, global analysis of the relationship between labor conditions, national competitiveness, and unemployment rates in 190 countries. The authors' findings are dramatic. They show that there is no relationship between unemployment rates and providing basic protections in a series of critical areas. Strikingly, data also indicate that good working conditions can make countries more competitive. There are no long-term economic gains to be had if workers are denied paid sick leave, paid annual leave, paid parental leave, the right to a day of rest, and many other basic protections that would improve the quality of their lives.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Those interested in understanding the nuances of the data or details of the authors' macro-economic analyses of the effects of social welfare legislation on unemployment rates will find much of this information in the appendix or notes . . . [S]ociologists—especially those interested in gender, work, and family—will find this book an invaluable resource . . . With its numerous world maps depicting the availability of various work-related policies, Raising the Global Floor provides a valuable 'big picture' look at the global landscape."—Amy S. Wharton, Contemporary Sociology

"How can we improve the daily conditions we all face at work and still live in countries that economically succeed? Heymann and Earle bring a decade of extraordinary research and exceptional insight to this critical question. Raising the Global Floor is a must read for anyone who cares about all our lives at work--the middle class and poor, at home and abroad."—Robert Reich, Professor of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, and Former U.S. Secretary of Labor

"Heymann and Earle train a critical eye on international labor standards and ask what kinds of reforms would make a difference in the lives of workers, their children, and their communities. The issues are compelling, the research rich and thoughtful. Essential reading for anyone concerned about workers' rights in the United States and around the world."—Katherine Newman, Director, Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies

"This important new book comes at the perfect moment. There is a desperate need for change and openness to new solutions. Heymann and Earle's careful and expansive research comes to the radical conclusion that decent work is not just a right—it is possible. Everyone who seeks to make the most of this moment needs this book."—Karen Nussbaum, Executive Director, Working America

"This book provides an inspiring, accessible, and comprehensive guide to making the world a better place."—Nancy Folbre, MacArthur Award-winning Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts

Library Journal
This book is the result of the first ten years of study at the World Rights Legal Data (WoRLD) Center, which examines the status of social and economic rights in 192 UN nations. Heymann (director, Inst. for Health & Social Policy, McGill Univ.) and Earle (codirector, Project on Global Working Families) report on data painstakingly gathered from various national constitutions and laws, comparing working conditions worldwide. The authors aim to educate readers on the state of labor legislation and policy worldwide, help them understand how their nations measure up, and empower them to advocate for improved global working conditions. Presenting data regarding paid sick leave, maternity/paternity leave, and a guaranteed day of rest, as well as national competitiveness and unemployment, the authors counter the myth that nations cannot guarantee good working conditions and remain competitive. Importantly, they offer suggestions for taking action on the individual, national, and international levels to promote equity in working conditions. VERDICT Global labor policymakers should read this eye-opening work, and thoughtful readers in general may be inspired to advocate for improved working conditions.—Elizabeth L. Winter, Georgia Inst. of Technology Lib., Atlanta
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780804768900
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press
  • Publication date: 11/18/2009
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author


Jody Heymann is Founding Director of the Institute for Health and Social Policy at McGill University. An internationally renowned researcher on public policy and equity, Heymann has authored more than 150 publications, including ten books. Her work has been featured widely—on CNN, Good Morning America, Fox News, and NPR, among other leading national and international media. Alison Earle is a Principal Research Scientist at Northeastern University. The Co-director of the Project on Global Working Families, she has led award-winning research on paid sick leave.
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