The Labor Lab at Tufts University is a collaborative institute employing the tools of social psychology, management science, and economics to understand the determinants of and remedies for harsh working conditions in factories around the world. The general objective of research at the Tufts Labor Lab is to identify viable systems to improve working conditions and worker well-being in factories in developing nations. The Labor Lab is engaged in multiple studies which each focus on one or more aspects of this broader research agenda, so as to provide a comprehensive body of research detailing multiple facets of factory systems.
We have developed a formal analytical framework of common labor management practices such as verbal abuse, sexual harassment, human trafficking, forced labor, excess hours, pay deception and occupational safety and health. The analysis predicts points of noncompliance with international labor standards and identifies the interventions that should, theoretically, induce factory managers to choose compliant and more humane work environments. The theoretical model and the impact of interventions are currently being tested using panel data, natural experiments and randomized controlled trials (RCTs).
The Labor Lab has conducted or is currently conducting research in Bangladesh, Cambodia, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Lesotho, Nepal, Nicaragua, Myanmar, the UK, and Vietnam. Current projects include:
- an RCT evaluation of women’s empowerment training funded by the Walmart Foundation
- analysis of the impact of compliance through the ILO/IFC funded Better Work program
- a randomized controlled trial evaluating the effectiveness of fair recruitment practices on forced labor outcomes in Nepal and Jordan
- analysis of worker well-being and work trajectory in Vietnam and Indonesia in collaboration with the International Development Research Center in Canada and
- analysis of enhanced production systems and data tracking within factories as a tool to improve working conditions in Myanmar.