Global Apparel Production and Sweatshop Labor: Can Raising Retail Prices Finance Living Wages?

PERI Working Paper No. 19

39 Pages Posted: 19 Mar 2003

See all articles by Robert Pollin

Robert Pollin

University of Massachusetts at Amherst - College of Social and Behavioral Sciences - Department of Economics

Justine Claire Burns

University of Cape Town (UCT) - Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU); University of Cape Town (UCT) - Research Unit for Behavioural Economics and Neuro-Economics (RUBEN); University of Cape Town - Faculty of Commerce - School of Economics

James Heintz

University of Massachusetts Amherst - Department of Political Science

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Abstract

This paper provides some empirical evidence on issues raised by the global anti-sweatshop movement. We first consider the relationship between wage and employment growth, finding no consistent trade-off between them. We then measure the share of labor costs in the production of garments in the United States and Mexico. We find that the retail price increases necessary to absorb the costs of substantially raising wages are small, well within the range of price increases that polls suggest U.S. consumers are willing to pay. We close by considering some implications of these results.

Suggested Citation

Pollin, Robert and Burns, Justine Claire and Heintz, James, Global Apparel Production and Sweatshop Labor: Can Raising Retail Prices Finance Living Wages?. PERI Working Paper No. 19. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=333325 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.333325

Robert Pollin (Contact Author)

University of Massachusetts at Amherst - College of Social and Behavioral Sciences - Department of Economics ( email )

940 Thompson Hall
Amherst, MA 01003
United States
413-577-0126 (Phone)

Justine Claire Burns

University of Cape Town (UCT) - Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU) ( email )

New Economics Building, Middle Campus
Rondebosch
Cape Town, 7701
South Africa

University of Cape Town (UCT) - Research Unit for Behavioural Economics and Neuro-Economics (RUBEN) ( email )

New Economics Building, Middle Campus
Rondebosch
Cape Town, 7701
South Africa

University of Cape Town - Faculty of Commerce - School of Economics ( email )

Rondebosch
Cape Town, 7700
South Africa

James Heintz

University of Massachusetts Amherst - Department of Political Science ( email )

Thompson Hall
Amherst, MA 01003
United States

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