March, 2015

Out of Poverty: Sweatshops in the Global Economy

Benjamin Powell
  • Christopher Coyne

    Associate Director, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
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In the First World, “sweatshop” is a dirty word. Activists continually call for boycotts of companies that employ sweatshop labor and sell sweatshop products. And who can forget Kathie Lee Gifford’s emotional public apology following the revelation that the production of her clothing line relied on sweatshop labor from Honduras. Indeed, the issue of sweatshops brings forth a strong, emotional response and rightfully so. The working conditions in sweatshops are miserable. But does this mean, as many people conclude, that therefore sweatshop labor should be banned or that products manufactured in sweatshops should be boycotted? In Out of Poverty, Benjamin Powell concludes that the answer to this question is a resounding “No!” In stark contrast to the way that most people think about sweatshops, Powell argues that sweatshops are part of the development process, a process which makes the lives of workers better off.

Find article at Springer Link