Dying for Globalization? The Impact of Economic Globalization on Industrial Accidents


Objectives: Industry-related accidents are tragically ubiquitous events, yet their underlying causes remain poorly understood. We focus on an important factor associated with the likelihood of industrial hazards: economic globalization. Specifically, we advance multiple hypotheses that suggest that global economic ties as well as the policies that are intended to facilitate these ties increase the likelihood of major industrial accidents as they induce poor governance and the violation of worker safety and regulations. Methods: We combine data on economic globalization with data on major industrial accidents, and examine the relationship between these variables across 137 countries for the period 1971–2012. Results: We find a significant positive relationship between economic globalization and the probability of industrial accidents. Results further suggest that the impact of state policies encouraging globalization, such as the removal of barriers to trade and capital flows, is stronger than that of trade and investment flows themselves. Conclusions: Our results show that a contradiction may exist between the pursuit of integration into the global economy and a key labor right—the right to a safe workplace—and suggest that pro-globalization policies may exacerbate the governance challenges associated with accident prevention.

Publication Title

Social Science Quarterly