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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Dynamics of Regulatory Change: How Globalization Affects National Regulatory Policies


The research project which produced this volume of essays grew out of the central issue addressed in Trading Up: Consumer and Environmental Regulation in a Global Economy by David Vogel, namely the impact of economic globalization on national regulatory policies. While popular opinion tends to assume that global economic competition produces a “race to the bottom,” virtually all scholars who have examined this issue challenge this claim. Vogel goes a step further, arguing for the existence of a “California effect,” e.g. a “race to the top” or toward stringency. This introductory essay reviews the extensive scholarly literature on this subject and then summarizes and analyzes the contributions of the ten essays in this volume to this debate as well as to the related question of the impact of globalization on regulatory convergence/divergence. On balance, these essays report both continued regulatory divergence as well as movement in the direction of more stringent standards.

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