Dr. Bianca Willert
Research Assistent at the Chair of Labor and Regional Economics, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany
My research interests include Labor Economics, Economic Development, Applied Econometrics, Economic History and International Trade.
Publications in Peer Reviewed Journals
At present, most countries have officially ratified the ILO Convention concerning forced or compulsory labor; however, serfdom is still present in the 21st century. This article addresses how oppressors recruit their victims and how certain mechanisms affect the extent of modern slavery. We use a matching model to analyze this recruitment process, incorporating involuntariness, which is the distinctive factor of employment relationships in modern slavery. In contrast to the standard matching model, not the workers exert effort to find jobs but the employers exert effort to find and hire slaves. Workers are heterogeneous regarding their vulnerability to enslavement, which is ex-ante unknown to the potential employers. The employer’s decision whether and to what extent to engage in forced labor depends on governmental labor protection and on the probability of detection. The model includes the possibility of bribery such that an employer can avoid sanctions if illicit behavior is detected. Solving the model yields that a high probability of detection and strict labor protection decrease slavery. We show that a high share of slaveholders increases the probability of enslavement and thus, the number of slaves. Surprisingly, strict labor protection increases the slaveholder’s effort, but also decreases their profit.
We develop a model where firms profit from coercing workers into employment under conditions violating national law and international conventions and where corrupt public servants prosecuting violations of the rules are willing to turn cases down if bribed. Firms and public servants are heterogeneous. Firms benefit differently from the use of coerced labour whereas public servants have differing intrinsic motivations to behave honestly. Moreover, there is a socially determined warm-glow effect: honest public servants feel better if their colleagues are honest too. The determination of bribes is modelled via Nash bargaining between the firm and the corrupt civil servant. It is shown that multiple equilibria and hysteresis are possible. Depending on history, an economy may be trapped in a locally stable high-corruption, high-slavery equilibrium and major changes in government policies may be necessary to move the economy out of this equilibrium. Moreover, we show that trade bans that are effective in reducing slavery in the export industry tend to raise slavery in the remainder of the economy. It is possible that this leakage effect dominates the reduction of slavery in the export sector.
Contemporarily, modern slavery represents one of the most serious human rights violations. Although most countries officially abolished slavery and ratified the 1926 Slavery Convention of the League of Nations, slavery and slave-like practices still exist in various forms throughout the world. This paper addresses why coercive relationships persist today and investigates how political decision-making, institutional environment and coercive labor practices are interlinked. Moreover, we investigate the interplay between domestic anti-slavery laws and the extent of modern slavery. This paper identifies social and economic determinants of modern slavery using a novel dataset. The panel data contain information on 144 countries and territories from 2002 – 2016 for various types of exploitation of adults and children. We study determinants of modern slavery using cluster analysis and fit a fixed effects model to explain which factors drive exploitation. We find that different types of exploitation are driven by different factors. In addition, we show that slave-sending and slave-receiving countries differ significantly. We study transnational human trafficking and identify which social and economic factors determine this specialization. Moreover, we fit a model using Poisson regression to study why some countries detect victims, originating form more countries, than others do.
International trade and fragmentation of production lead to increased trade in intermediate goods. Increased multi-stage production promotes the formation of free-trade agreements (FTA). In this paper, the relationship between intermediates trade and FTAs is examined with a two-step Pseudo Poisson Maximum Likelihood model. The analysis of a comprehensive dataset of pairwise trade-flow data of 70 countries from the years 1995- 2011 shows a significant connection between trade in intermediates and the participation in free-trade agreements. A two-way relationship is identified: intermediates trade increases the probability to form a FTA and FTAs lead to an increase in intermediates trade.
Presentations at Conferences and Workshops
Summer Schools & Meetings
Popular Scientific Presentations
Teaching at the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg
Macroeconomics (Summer Term 2022)
Labor Market Economics (Summer Term 2022)