Discussion paper

DP2904 The Adoption of Labour Standards Conventions: Who, When and Why?

The ratification of ILO Labour Standards Conventions is a key explanatory variable in the empirical literature linking labour standards to economic performance. The assumption is that ratification gives information about labour standards implemented in a country. This Paper investigates the determinants of ratification directly and, indirectly, the determinants of labour standards. We find considerable variation across different Conventions, and across developing and developed countries. But there are some systematic and interesting patterns. While economic variables such as per capita income do not explain ratification, legal systems do. Most interestingly, for some Conventions, even after controlling for basic economic characteristics and domestic legal institutions, we find that peer effects are in play and the probability of adopting an international standard depends on how many other countries in a peer group have already adopted that standard.


Kanbur, R and N Chau (2001), ‘DP2904 The Adoption of Labour Standards Conventions: Who, When and Why?‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 2904. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp2904