Monica Schuster, University of Leuven: "Worker empowerment through labor standards. Evidence from the Peruvian horticultural export sector"

Private standards are increasingly governing international food production and trade. They first emerged in response to consumer concerns in high-income countries about food safety and quality, and later expanded to address environmental and ethical concerns. It has been shown that standards reduce the relative number of small and medium farms involved in high-value export chains, but at the same time create new employment opportunities for poor households. We analyze how the empowerment of these workers is influenced by the adoption of labor standards.  We use panel data from company and worker surveys to provide robust evidence on the effects of labor standards on employees’ knowledge on their employment rights and agency to improve these rights. Evidence from difference-in-difference matching on several treatment and comparison groups shows that employment in companies adopting labor standards has a significant, although small, positive effect on worker empowerment.