The Recursivity of Reform : China's Amended Labor Contract Law

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)973-1034
Number of pages62
Journal / PublicationFordham International Law Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 2014
Externally publishedYes


This article analyzes the 2012 amendments to China's Labor Contract Law and their implementing regulations from the perspective of China’s decades-long project of labor law reform. Integrating theories of legal recursivity and the literature on regulatory compliance, it sees the latest amendments as further evidence of the dynamic interplay between cycles of law reform and implementation. This inquiry suggests new dimensions of recursive legal reform – namely the impact of incentive structures and regulatory distance. The article then identifies implementing measures that, if adopted at the national or local level, might better advance the amendments’ stated goals and “wind down” the recursive cycle. It concludes by placing China’s ongoing labor reform experiment in the context of recent efforts by other governments to respond to the global informalization of labor.

Research Area(s)

  • labor, employment, informalization, china, chinese, Labor Contract Law, recursivity, legal reform, nonstandard work, compliance