Recent years have witnessed a rapidly growing interest in the
use and construction of "qualitative" indicators of labour
standards. This is likely attributable to several factors: the rise
of "socially responsible" investment, ongoing debates on the
effects of labour standards on international competitiveness, and
the sense that traditional quantitative indicators of labour
standards are too narrow in scope to adequately capture the
wide-ranging and inherently qualitative nature of many aspects of
labour standards. Qualitative indicators, while generally having
numerical values, are based on such methods as grading by experts,
the coding of legislation, and the coding of other textual sources
addressing violations of a more de facto nature. Measuring
compliance with labour standards is an undertaking intrinsically
fraught with difficulty. For there are a number of possible sources
of measurement error, both random and non-random, that are unique
to such indicators, on top of those that affect qualitative and
quantitative indicators alike. The growing use of qualitative
indicators of labour standards thus raises a number of questions
about comparative methods of construction as well as the
appropriateness of particular methods for particular applications.
This volume results from a seminar that was organized to address
these and related questions.
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