Blog: Leonie BarrieGarment factories boost Bangladesh education

Leonie Barrie | 16 September 2014

The explosive growth of the Bangladeshi ready-made garment industry is more likely to be accompanied by accusations of sweatshop exploitation from labour rights activists than praise for the positive opportunities it brings the sector's largely-women workforce.

But new research suggests the latter is more likely to be true.

The findings from The National Bureau of Economic Research in the US suggest that girls exposed to the garment sector are more likely to delay marriage and childbirth. This is partly because the arrival of garment jobs - which reward literacy and numeracy - are more likely to lead to young girls being enrolled in school; while for older girls there is a greater chance of being employed outside the home in villages close to garment factories.

And in perhaps the most surprising discovery, the paper on 'Manufacturing Growth and the Lives of Bangladeshi Women' says the growth of garment manufacturing has made more of an impact on female education than a large-scale government-backed scheme that offers cash and other incentives to encourage female schooling.

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