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.


Author: Sheng Lu

Professor @ University of Delaware

6 thoughts on “Study Suggests Positive Social Impact of the Garment Sector on the Lives of Bangladesh Women”

  1. I know that there are still a lot of improvements that need to be made in Bangladesh’s T&A industry, such as better factory conditions and higher wages, but because of these facts in this article, I do not think that US Companies should stop sourcing products in Bangladesh. I have always felt bad for pursing a career in the fashion industry because I did not think I would get to help people as much as someone who is pursing a job in the medical field, but learning about how my industry really does help people makes me so happy and feel good about the path I have chosen. I hope to be able to help even more countries develop through the stages of development we learned about in class.

  2. This article shows off a positive light to the sourcing in Bangladesh, specifically towards the Women workforce. This just reinforces my severe concern for the work conditions in Bangladesh because it would be so easy to see the advantages of working in Bangladesh of there wasn’t so many negative affects already put into play with living and working conditions. To these women, they are considered lucky to get to work in the garment sector over the lives they leave behind however that doesn’t mean that they are in fact getting a good and healthy lifestyle. This one article although shines a tiny positive light does not make me believe that they should continue to source to Bangladesh.

  3. I think that this article shows positive and negative sides of the industry in Bangladesh. On the one hand the women working in the factories are more likely to get some kind of education with every year that they stay in the work force. But on the other hand the factories in Bangladesh are not safe environments for young women who are most likely to be working in them. These women often bring their young children with them to work and this can lead to accidents and more devastating effects if something were to happen to the factory. I think that it is in the best interest of western retailers to take their business else where to create better working relationships and safer conditions for their workers regardless of the little benefits they might get from working in the factory.

  4. After reading this post and referencing case studies, I believe that sourcing out of Bangladesh should not be stopped. Even though the working conditions and wages are poor, I believe that US companies should remain manufacturing in Bangladesh and try to take responsibility and change these aspects. In addition, I would say to continue manufacturing there because the girls who are exposed to the garment sector receive many benefits such as a higher education, and a delay in early marriage and children.

  5. The statistics explained in this post were actually quite shocking to me. I did not know that girls in the garment sector delay marriage or actually get more education than girls in the non garment sector. However, this does not at all mean that the working conditions are anything close to acceptable. I think the US should be continuously helping in the efforts to better the conditions, however I do not think that they should stop sourcing from Bangladesh because it would ultimately hurt the US economy as well as the economy in Bangladesh. Taking away jobs from Bangladesh girls is not the way to solve the problem, the US needs to take other measures to better conditions rather than stop sourcing from them which will just get rid of jobs totally.

  6. I think this is a very interesting article. Many times when I think about Bangladesh and the garment sector, I think only negative things. Ever since the factory fire and factory collapse, Bangladesh’s garment sector has been seen negatively. This article really provided interesting statistics about the woman workforce in Bangladesh, and how it is not necessarily all bad, and can have positive effects on women. I think Bangladesh still needs to continue working on their working conditions and standards, and the working conditions are not even close to acceptable. However, this article did shed some light on how the garment industry has offered some futures for woman that other industries don’t. Working in garment factories is in many cases a step up from working in their rural villages, and they are being paid at least some money.

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