Study Suggests Positive Social Impact of the Garment Sector on the Lives of Bangladesh Women

While our case study 1 focused on the problem of corporate social responsibility practices in the Bangladesh garment sector, a recent study based on examining 1,395 households in 60 Bangladeshi villages in 2009 suggests that the growth of the garment sector has resulted in positive impacts on the lives of Bangladeshi women.

Specifically, the study finds that:

1) Girls exposed to the garment sector delay early marriage and childbirth at early ages (12-18). Many studies have suggested the negative welfare implications of early marriage and childbirth.

2) Girls exposed to the garment sector gain extra years of education. According to the study, on average, one additional year of working in the garment sector statistically will lead to a 0.48 years of education for girls. The authors further suggest that increased demand for skills in garment factories was one of the main driving forces behind such a positive correlation.

As argued by the authors, in developing countries such as Bangladesh, social policies such as education are often tied to trade policy and industrial policy.

However, one another interesting finding is that the average wage level of respondents working in the garment sector was almost 22% lower than those working in the non-garment sector in Bangladesh.

So, based on our case study and the above research findings, do you have any new thoughts about improving the corporate social responsibility practices in the global apparel industry? Do you think Western retailers shall stop sourcing apparel from Bangladesh because of the reported problem of factory safety and workers’ working condition? Please feel free to share your views.

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Discussion: The People’s Republic of Capitalism

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  • What does the documentary impress you most or surprise you most?
  • How do you compare your life with any characters in the documentary? (the Missourian lady, her boss who moved factories to China, the Mexicans who worked on US cotton farms, the Chinese girl working on the production line, the Chinese high school student who comes from a poor rural area and her mother….)
  • How do you see the dilemma of globalization and international trade from the documentary?
  • What arguments in the video do you disagree or have different viewpoints?
  • Do you have any discussion questions to ask your classmates about the documentary?

Please feel free to share your thoughtful comments and I look forward to exciting discussions with you all.

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Why People Think Differently about International Trade?

This week we looked at a critical activity closely associated with the textile and apparel industry in the 21st century: International Trade.  Among the fundamental questions we examined, whether trade is beneficial or not is a one that all of us care much about but also has raised many debates. 

Just this week, the Pew Research Center released its latest survey findings about the public opinion on growing trade and business ties between countries and views about the impact of trade on jobs, wages and prices. The results show that not only Americans, but also people in other countries, including those developing ones, are divided about international trade. Anyhow, the highest level of public skepticism about trade and foreign investment is found in the United States.  

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Job and wage are among the top concerns about trade among the general public. In Italy, nearly 59 percent survey respondents believed that trade destroy jobs and 52 percent believed trade lower wages. These two figures are 50 and 45 among US respondents.

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After our discussion on various trade theories, which school of thought do you agree more: mercantilism or comparative advantage theory? Are these theories proposed hundreds years ago still working today? Do you think deepened globalization will reduce the gap or even widen the gap of people’s divided view on international trade? How do you think international trade affects your daily life and your future career opportunities? Last but not least, is trade beneficial for the US textile and apparel industry in the 21st century? Please feel free to share your views!