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

By Jody Heymann and Alison Earle

This book reports landmark findings on improving the conditions women and men face at work. Central to the debate about whether countries can afford to improve working conditions has always been the question of whether they can do so without increasing their unemployment and decreasing their economic competitiveness. While the economic implications of guaranteeing decent work have always been important, they are particularly critical during the economic downturn that began in 2008 and that will likely affect countries around the world for years to come. This book presents results of unique analyses of the relationship between labor conditions and national competitiveness and unemployment rates. It also examines the impact of legislation on the improvement of working conditions in countries around the world. The findings of this global study dismissed many of the common contentions. Some of the nations with the best working conditions have the lowest unemployment rates, and some of the countries that were rated as the most competitive by global corporate leaders provide the best social support and protections for workers.


"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

"This is an unprecedented study. The authors demonstrate quite convincingly that governments can enact legislation on working conditions for all without hurting companies and countries economically. Their data show that, indeed, there is global consensus on certain labor practices, which alone makes this book required reading for policy makers and human resource personnel."
- Rosanna Hertz, Professor of Sociology and Women's Studies, Wellesley College

"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

"Raising the Global Floor is among the most persuasive, eye-opening, and timely books I've ever read. Every employer, activist, and policy maker should read this remarkable book!"
- John de Graaf, Executive Director, Take Back Your Time

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