International trade and the relation between economic and social upgrading

Publication Type: 
Total Pages: 
6
Published On: 
2012

Does improved export performance result in social upgrading? While most research presumes economic upgrading leads directly to social upgrading in global value chains, this connection has not been analyzed in a systematic fashion. Research on apparel, horticulture, mobile phones and tourism value chains in ten or more developing countries (1990-2009) indicates:

  • Economic upgrading is generally a necessary but insufficient condition for social upgrading.
  • Economic downgrading, and especially social downgrading, is more common than previous research would indicate.
  • Trade policy could play an important role in shaping and connecting economic and social upgrading.