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Unmasking social distant damage of developed regions’ lifestyle: A decoupling analysis of the indecent labour footprint

Ángela García-Alaminos, Fabio Monsalve, Jorge Zafrilla and Maria-Angeles Cadarso

PLOS ONE, 2020, vol. 15, issue 4, 1-17

Abstract: A fair path to achieve a sustainable world would imply reducing the eventual negative effects linked to the production process while increasing economic output, which is referred to in the literature as impact decoupling. This article aims to assess whether global consumption chains are currently on the decoupling path or not, from a social point of view. Specifically, we address the working conditions which developed societies’ lifestyle sparked at a distance in global factory countries, focusing on the most harmful consequences of an indecent work. Additionally, we determine the kind of decoupling observed through the new concept of social footprints’ elasticities with respect to final demand for each region. We employ a Multi-Regional Input-Output model and an own elaboration database of social impacts concerning undignified working conditions. Results indicate that most countries achieved the goal of decoupling occupational injuries -both fatal and non-fatal- from production, while results for forced labour show a slower and sometimes uncertain process of decoupling. European Union and United States’ footprints have been reduced overtime for the three impacts. However, more than half of these footprints are still generated by imports, mainly from developing regions.

Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0228649

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