Economic Justice in an Unfair World

Economic Justice in an Unfair World: Toward a Level Playing Field

Ethan B. Kapstein
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 288
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7s15q
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  • Book Info
    Economic Justice in an Unfair World
    Book Description:

    Recent years have seen a growing number of activists, scholars, and even policymakers claiming that the global economy is unfair and unjust, particularly to developing countries and the poor within them. But what would a fair or just global economy look like?Economic Justice in an Unfair Worldseeks to answer that question by presenting a bold and provocative argument that emphasizes economic relations among states.

    The book provides a market-oriented focus, arguing that a just international economy would be one that is inclusive, participatory, and welfare-enhancing for all states. Rejecting radical redistribution schemes between rich and poor, Ethan Kapstein asserts that a politically feasible approach to international economic justice would emphasize free trade and limited flows of foreign assistance in order to help countries exercise their comparative advantage.

    Kapstein also addresses justice in labor, migration, and investment, in each case defending an approach that concentrates on nation-states and their unique social compacts. Clearly written for all those with a stake in contemporary debates over poverty reduction and development, the book provides a breakthrough analysis of what the international community can reasonably do to build a global economy that works to the advantage of every nation.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3759-5
    Subjects: Business, Economics, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. PREFACE
    (pp. xi-xviii)
  5. LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xix-xxii)
  6. 1 ECONOMIC JUSTICE IN AN UNFAIR WORLD
    (pp. 1-44)

    Recent years have witnessed a growing number of activists, scholars, and even policy makers asserting that the global economy operates in a way that is fundamentally unfair, particularly to developing countries and to the poor within them. Thus, a Washington-based policy analyst has called the trade policies of the United States and the European Union an “ethical scandal,”¹ and a U.S. trade representative has branded European protection of its agriculture “immoral.”² The Belgian foreign minister has proclaimed the need for an “ethical globalization,”³ and the former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, has even launched an “Ethical...

  7. 2 FAIRNESS IN TRADE
    (pp. 45-85)

    Free trade is widely held by economists to promote global efficiency and growth, but a rising chorus of voices is asserting that it has not done much to help developing countries and the poor, at least given the current structure of the international trade regime. Are these accusations true? Is the international trade regime tilted against the weakest states and the most vulnerable persons within them?

    In the previous chapter, we saw that international trade has been charged with contributing to negative economic outcomes such as rising poverty and income inequality within and among nations. The trade regime has also...

  8. 3 ALLOCATING AID
    (pp. 86-113)

    Only diehard protectionists would disagree with the proposition that trade plays an essential role in generating economic growth. More contested, however, is the notion that foreign aid can perform a similar function. To the contrary, aid is often viewed as growth-stifling to the extent that it fuels corruption, bloats the government, and creates disincentives for productive investment.

    Why, then, should the international community assume, in the words of John Rawls, a “duty of assistance” in order to help states achieve their economic potential?¹ In what way can aid be considered welfare-enhancing, especially for donor countries? And even if a theoretical...

  9. 4 JUSTICE IN MIGRATION AND LABOR
    (pp. 114-146)

    A just global economy is necessarily built atop two social compacts: oneamongnation-states, and anotherwithinthem. The first compact offers the promise of greater economic growth via the pathway of international trade and investment, while the second, domestic social compact signifies an agreement between government and society to exploit that growth in the interest of producing greater welfare for the polity as a whole.

    But what if, rather than strengthening the domestic social compact, greater openness to trade and investment acts toundermineit? For example, suppose that states of type N with relatively high labor standards (e.g.,...

  10. 5 HARNESSING INVESTMENT
    (pp. 147-174)

    For better or worse, governments provide the global economy with its authoritative normative structure and operating principles. But the sources of those norms are diverse, and the norms themselves are often contested. Human rights, for example, now occupy a central place on the international agenda, thanks to the work of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and environmental groups have played a key role in raising public consciousness about issues such as climate change and biodiversity. These examples suggest that norms are fluid and amenable to change.

    Among the NGOs that shape global economic norms,...

  11. 6 TOWARD A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD: A POLICY AGENDA
    (pp. 175-196)

    Something like a normative revolution is now under way with respect to the global economy. Many critics—including some hard-boiled economists—have accused its underlying structures of being “unfair” or “unjust,” especially to developing countries and to the poor within them. The continuing presence of millions of persons in poverty as we enter the twenty-first century, without access to the most basic goods and services that are necessary to preserve human life, much less dignity, naturally raises outcries from around the world and across the political spectrum that the international community must do better in the years ahead.

    Few readers...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 197-218)
  13. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 219-234)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 235-253)