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Sustainability 2014, 6(11), 7514-7540; doi:10.3390/su6117514

The “Bad Labor” Footprint: Quantifying the Social Impacts of Globalization

1
Industrial Ecology Programme, Department of Energy and Process Engineering, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Sem Sælands vei 7, NO-7491 Trondheim, Norway
2
Department of Environmental Science, Radboud University Nijmegen, Heyendaalseweg 135, 6525 Nijmegen, The Netherlands
3
PRé Consultants bv, Stationsplein 121, 2818 LE Amersfoort, The Netherlands
These authors contributed equally to this work.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 8 August 2014 / Accepted: 17 October 2014 / Published: 24 October 2014
(This article belongs to the Section Social Ecology and Sustainability)
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Abstract

The extent to what bad labor conditions across the globe are associated with international trade is unknown. Here, we quantify the bad labor conditions associated with consumption in seven world regions, the “bad labor” footprint. In particular, we analyze how much occupational health damage, vulnerable employment, gender inequality, share of unskilled workers, child labor, and forced labor is associated with the production of internationally traded goods. Our results show that (i) as expected, there is a net flow of bad labor conditions from developing to developed regions; (ii) the production of exported goods in lower income regions contributes to more than half of the bad labor footprints caused by the wealthy lifestyles of affluent regions; (iii) exports from Asia constitute the largest global trade flow measured in the amount bad labor, while exports from Africa carry the largest burden of bad labor conditions per unit value traded and per unit of total labor required; and (IV) the trade of food products stands out in both volume and intensity of bad labor conditions. View Full-Text
Keywords: social footprint; international trade; social impacts of consumption; labor conditions; supply chain; consumption-based accounting; multiregional input-output model social footprint; international trade; social impacts of consumption; labor conditions; supply chain; consumption-based accounting; multiregional input-output model
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Simas, M.S.; Golsteijn, L.; Huijbregts, M.A.J.; Wood, R.; Hertwich, E.G. The “Bad Labor” Footprint: Quantifying the Social Impacts of Globalization. Sustainability 2014, 6, 7514-7540.

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