The apparel industry has been widely criticized for “exploiting” Third World workers in sweatshops, but the data show that these workers are better off than most people in their countries.
…In 9 of 11 countries, the reported sweatshop wages equal or exceed average income, doubling it in Cambodia, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Honduras (at 70 hours). However, these figures do not include non-monetary compensation. Nike’s employees in Indonesia, for example, receive free health care and meals in addition to their wages…most of the jobs that some anti-sweatshop advocates protest raise their workers’ standard of living above their nation’s average.
I always say that what low-skilled workers need are not fewer Wal-Marts, but more of them. The same could be said of sweatshops.
Thanks to Don Boudreaux for the pointer.