The impact of the 2008 labor contract law on labor disputes in China
China's Labor Contract Law came into force on January 1, 2008. One of several important legislative acts aimed at improving the processing of labor grievances through mediation, arbitration, and litigation, and averting collective labor protest, it provides that all employed persons must work under written individual employment contracts. We evaluate the legislation's impact nationally and by province for the years before and after the law's adoption. Observing that the law's effect varied substantially across provinces, we estimate the effects of the law, controlling for time, development level, export intensity, and migrant labor share, on the volume of disputes by province using a cross-sectional time series design. We also examine the law's impact on the incidence of collective disputes and the grounds for disputes. We find that the law significantly increased the volume of labor disputes, raising questions about the relative costliness of the government's strategy for managing employment relations.