This book provides a comprehensive defense of third-world sweatshops. It explains how these sweatshops provide the best available opportunity to workers and how they play an important role in the process of development that eventually leads to better wages and working conditions. Using economic theory, the author argues that much of what the anti-sweatshop movement has agitated for would actually harm the very workers they intend to help by creating less desirable alternatives and undermining the process of development. Nowhere does this book put “profits” or “economic efficiency” above people. Improving the welfare of poorer citizens of third world countries is the goal, and the book explores which methods best achieve that goal. Sweatshops will help readers understand how activists and policy makers can help third world workers.
"This eloquent book makes the compassionate case for sweatshops in poor countries as what poor workers voluntarily select as employers because they are better than the alternatives. It is uncommonly clear in this book that the economists' case for sweatshops is based on what's best for the workers, not what's best for efficiency or profits or First World consumers."
William Easterly, Co-Director of the Development Research Institute, New York University, and author of The White Man's Burden and The Elusive Quest for Growth
"Ben Powell has written a brilliant and thought-provoking book on sweatshops. He challenges a number of critical beliefs about them which, although springing from concern about the poor, lead to policies that will harm the poor. No policymakers, especially in aid and development agencies like USAID and UNDP, can afford to ignore this masterly book."
Jagdish Bhagwati, Columbia University, and author of In Defense of Globalization
"The term 'sweatshops' is a dirty word to students on American campuses and activists around the world, implying exploited workers toiling in horrible conditions for long hours at low pay. Powell's splendid new book gives us another perspective: how workers view sweatshops as an opportunity for improving their economic condition. Indeed, countless Americans, Japanese, and others enjoy their high standard of today living because their grandmothers and grandfathers worked in sweatshops a century ago."
Douglas Irwin, Dartmouth College, and author of Free Trade Under Fire