Study: Garment Manufacturing Jobs Saves Lives for Bangladeshi Women

Published Date : Feb 19, 2015

A recent study by University of Washington indicates that the life of a Bangladeshi garment factory worker might not be an easy one, but it sure increases the chances of a young Bangladeshi woman to avert early marriage and childbirth. 

In the last 30 years, the garment making sector has grown by leaps and bounds in Bangladesh. According to Bangladesh Export Processing Bureau, the industry accounts for about 3/4th of the nation’s yearly annual export revenue. The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association reported that the garment industry employs about 4 million such workers, out of which 80% are women.

The debacle of a building collapse in 2013 of a commercial garment making unit that killed more than 1,100 workers put this industry in a negative spotlight, fueling debates, discussions, and opposition from human rights activists. Fortunately, the new research indicates brighter side of these factories for several Bangladeshi women. 

Rachel Heath, UW economist along with co-author A. Mushfiq Mobarak, Yale University School of Management analyzed the data of enrollments in schools, marriages, and childbirth from 1,395 households spread over 60 Bangladeshi villages in 2009. 

The paper published in the Journal of Development Economics, noted the age during marriage and age when first child was born in comparison with women who were exposed to factory jobs. Both the authors have emphatically stated that the chances of marriage and childbirth at an early age reduced considerably for girls who had greater exposure to factory jobs and garment sector in general.