Trade and decent work: Handbook of assessment methodologies

This Handbook presents and critically evaluates the methodologies used to assess the impact of trade on various areas of decent work. To that end, it traces the evolution of theories and methodological approaches ranging from the macro (country), through the meso (industry/sector), to the micro (firm and worker) level. The Handbook examines the strengths and weaknesses of these approaches, taking into consideration their underlying assumptions, data requirements and the scope that they provide for analysing broader labour market outcomes, including those that can be measured using decent work indicators. Particular attention is paid to micro approaches, since analysis at that level, especially using linked employer–employee data sets, allows one to understand better the distributional effects of trade. Such data sets make it possible to take into account not only firm and worker characteristics but also their interactions, potentially leading to more realistic conclusions.

The Handbook has been designed to help with the selection of methodological approaches for assessing the effects of trade on broader labour market outcomes. It is suitable for both researchers and a wider audience interested in learning more about these techniques. Policymaking is often informed by the results obtained from models, some of which, however, are based on rigid and unrealistic assumptions. An improved understanding of the various methodologies, and of the complementarities between them, could therefore lead to the development of more effective models.