Race to the Bottom - Explained
What is a Race to the Bottom?
If you still have questions or prefer to get help directly from an agent, please submit a request.
We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
- Marketing, Advertising, Sales & PR
- Accounting, Taxation, and Reporting
- Professionalism & Career Development
Law, Transactions, & Risk Management
Government, Legal System, Administrative Law, & Constitutional Law Legal Disputes - Civil & Criminal Law Agency Law HR, Employment, Labor, & Discrimination Business Entities, Corporate Governance & Ownership Business Transactions, Antitrust, & Securities Law Real Estate, Personal, & Intellectual Property Commercial Law: Contract, Payments, Security Interests, & Bankruptcy Consumer Protection Insurance & Risk Management Immigration Law Environmental Protection Law Inheritance, Estates, and Trusts
- Business Management & Operations
- Economics, Finance, & Analytics
What is a Race to the Bottom?
The race to the bottom scenario of global environmental degradation runs like this. Profit-seeking multinational companies shift their production from countries with strong environmental standards to countries with weak standards, thus reducing their costs and increasing their profits. Faced with such behavior, countries reduce their environmental standards to attract multinational firms, which, after all, provide jobs and economic clout. As a result, global production becomes concentrated in countries where firms can pollute the most and environmental laws everywhere “race to the bottom.”
Back to: ECONOMIC ANALYSIS & MONETARY POLICY
Although the race-to-the bottom scenario sounds plausible, it does not appear to describe reality. In fact, the financial incentive for firms to shift production to poor countries to take advantage of their weaker environmental rules does not seem especially powerful. When firms decide where to locate a new factory, they look at many different factors: the costs of labor and financial capital; whether the location is close to a reliable suppliers of the inputs that they need; whether the location is close to customers; the quality of transportation, communications, and electrical power networks; the level of taxes; and the competence and honesty of the local government. The cost of environmental regulations is a factor, too, but typically environmental costs are no more than 1 to 2% of the costs that a large industrial plant faces. The other factors that determine location are much more important to these companies than trying to skimp on environmental protection costs.
When an international company does choose to build a plant in a low-income country with lax environmental laws, it typically builds a plant similar to those that it operates in high-income countries with stricter environmental standards. Part of the reason for this decision is that designing an industrial plant is a complex and costly task, and so if a plant works well in a high-income country, companies prefer to use the same design everywhere. Also, companies realize that if they create an environmental disaster in a low-income country, it is likely to cost them a substantial amount of money in paying for damages, lost trust, and reduced sales—by building up-to-date plants everywhere they minimize such risks. As a result of these factors, foreign-owned plants in low-income countries often have a better record of compliance with environmental laws than do locally-owned plants.
- Trade Balance: Surplus and Deficit
- J Curve
- National Trade Data Bank
- Capital Account (Economics)
- Merchandise Trade Balance
- Current Account
- Income Payments
- Is it better to have a trade surplus or a trade deficit?
- Heckscher-Ohlin Model
- Linder Hypothesis
- The Balance of Trade as a Balance of Payments
- Supply and Demand Sides for Financial Capital?
- Flow of Capital
- Domestic Saving and Investment Determine the Trade Balance
- National Savings Identity and Trade Deficits
- How the Business Cycle Affects Trade Balances
- Trade Balance or Trade Surplus
- Comparative Advantage
- Absolute Advantage
- Specialization and Gain from Trade
- Absolute Advantage in All Goods
- Production Possibilities Frontier and Comparative Advantage
- Comparative Advantage and Mutually Beneficial Trade
- Opportunity Costs and International Trade
- Splitting Up the Value Chain
- How Economies of Scale Lead to Trading Advantages
- Closed Economy
- Import Quotas
- Double Column Tariff
- Infant Industry Theory
- Anti-Dumping Laws
- Non-Tariff Barriers
- Effects of Trade Barriers
- Who Is Benefited and Who is Harmed by Protectionism?
- Infant Industry Theory for Restricting Imports
- What is the Anti-Dumping Argument for Restricting Imports?
- What is the Environmental Protection Argument for Restricting Imports?
- Unsafe Consumer Products Argument for Restricting Imports?
- What is the WTO?
- What is the GATT?
- What are Free Trade Agreements?
- North American Free Trade Agreement
- Central European Free Trade Agreement
- General Agreement on Free Tariff and Trade (GATT)
- Common Market
- Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa
- Central American Common Market
- Caribbean Community and Common Market
- What are Economic Unions?
- International Monetary Fund
- World Economic Forum
- Inter-American Development Bank
- Davos World Economic Forum
- Chamber of Commerce
- Jackson Hole Economic Symposium