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Title: Better rather than more? : exploring the sustainability implications of paying a living wage in the Western European clothing supply chain
Author: Mair, Simon
ISNI:       0000 0004 5992 2325
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2016
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The Sustainable Development Goals are a high level development plan for a world free of poverty, with decent work for all and less environmentally damaging patterns of production and consumption. This thesis explores whether paying living wages to Brazilian, Russian, Indian and Chinese (BRIC) workers in the Western European clothing supply chain could contribute towards the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals. This thesis principally uses two modelling frameworks. A global multi-regional input-output framework, extended to enable assessment of fairness in global supply chains, and a system dynamics model of the Western European clothing supply chain. This allows us to explore both the different ways in which clothing retailers might be able to pay for a living wage in their supply chains and associated sustainability impacts. Our analysis makes three key contributions. (1) Empirical evidence suggesting that in the Western European clothing supply chain, consumption drives environmental impact, and BRIC wages are ‘unfair’ and unable to support a ‘decent’ quality of life. (2) Extension of the limited evidence base on the employment effects of living wages in developing countries. We point to a potentially powerful employment multiplier effect (which may mean that living wages increase employment). However, we also suggest that productivity gains following wage increases could exacerbate job losses. (3) Mixed evidence on the environmental impacts of paying a supply chain living wage. While this is likely to marginally reduce the environmental impacts of affluent country consumption our findings also suggest that global environmental impacts could rise due to increased developing country consumption. Based on these findings, we argue that paying a living wage to those developing country workers employed in affluent country supply chains could contribute to a more sustainable world by reducing poverty and improving working conditions. We further argue that the risk of increased total environmental damage could be minimised through investment in more sustainable infrastructure in developing countries themselves, and we also highlight the need for additional reductions in the environmental impacts of affluent country consumption, beyond supply chain living wage initiatives. Finally, we suggest that efforts to move to craft based production methods could be used to resist labour productivity growth, minimising the risk of job losses.
Supervisor: Druckman, Angela ; Jackson, Tim Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council ; Natural Environment Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available