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Recent efforts by Western economic powers to bring labor standards under the authority of the World Trade Organization (WTO) have been opposed by the global South. Prior research has produced conflicting evidence on whether curtailment of labor rights promotes or hinders rapid economic development. This article presents a summary of the relevant policy debates, especially those at the WTO. I also summarize opposing theories that posit restriction of labor rights as either promoting or hindering rapid development. After a review of prior quantitative studies, I present my own novel approach to testing theories of labor rights and development. My conclusion summarizes the implications of the test results for the policy debates and presents a model that could serve to advance the WTO social clause agenda.