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Cellphones - Third World and Developing Nations - Poverty - Technology - The New York Times

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How to achieve fair wages in the fashion industry - we ask the experts

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Algebra and Trigonometry 6th Saunders Comprehensive Review Only a few economic papers have dealt directly with sweatshops. Brown, Deardorff, and Stern modeled the theoretic frameworks in which multinational firms could raise or lower wages.

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Moran Ch. Most scholarly work by economists related to sweatshops has focused on the wages multinational firms pay. Several econometric studies demonstrate the benefits multinational firms provide. Aitken, Harrison, and Lipsey and Lipsey and Sjoholm both find that after controlling for other factors, multinational firms pay higher wages than domestic firms in Third World countries.

Feenstra and Hanson find that multinational firms improve the lives of workers by increasing the demand for labor. Budd and Slaughter and Budd, Konings, and Slaughter find that as multinational profits go up, multinational firms share gains with Third World workers. Brown, Deardorff and Stern summarize the literature documenting the benefits multinational companies provide to Third World workers.

Economists critical of sweatshops usually do not dispute that multinational firms pay more than domestic firms in most cases. Miller notes,. This paper expands on the existing literature by comparing sweatshop wages, without regard to whether a firm is multinational or a domestic subcontractor of such, to standards of living in the countries in which they employ workers. We compiled a list of countries where U. The apparel industry is widely cited in the press for using sweatshops most frequently, so apparel industry wages in these countries are compared to average income, average wages and poverty earnings, in the next section of this paper.

In the third section we compare the wages at individual firms accused of being sweatshops with these same standard of living measures. The apparel industry has drawn the most attention the press for its use of sweatshop labor. Sometimes a U. Table 1 contains the average apparel industry wages in countries where sweatshops supposedly exist. Apparel industry wages are low by U. Since no data documenting the average number of hours worked in the apparel industry were available, we provide four estimates that vary the hours worked per week between 40 and The 60 and 70 hour estimates are more likely to be accurate since these employees often work long hours and six days per week.

Apparel workers in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Honduras, and Nicaragua earn 3 to 7 times the national average. National income per capita divides the total output of the economy by the total population, both workers and non-workers. If apparel industry workers tend to be young and without a family, or women and children, then comparing apparel wages to average income per capita gives a fairly accurate assessment of how they live compared to others in their economy since their income is only supporting one person.

Women and children were often the workers in 19 th century U.

Unfortunately, good wage data does not exist. To approximate average wage data, we have used employment participation data to adjust average income per capita to reflect average income per worker. Data on labor force size do not count workers in the informal sector, which can be quite large in these countries, but the value of what informal workers produce is often estimated in GDP measures.

Figure 2 shows that despite this bias, average apparel industry wages equal or exceed average income per worker in 8 of 10 countries. At 70 hours of work per week, apparel worker earnings in six countries exceed percent of average income per worker, and they more than double the average in three countries. We can also compare apparel industry earnings to the dire poverty in these countries.

Although the apparel industry as a whole pays better, anti-sweatshop activists sometimes single out particular firms as exploitative. We next look at examples in which specific firms have been protested for being sweatshops. Our data come from popular press articles that document sweatshop wages.

Thus, any bias would understate the actual level of compensation. Table 3 lists the wages that sweatshop workers reportedly earn and, when available, the company involved. We were sitting under a slow-revolving ceiling fan in a small restaurant in Accra, eating bowls of piquant Ghanaian peanut-and-chicken stew. Chipchase told a story about meeting some monk disciples at a temple in Ulan Bator, when he vacationed in Mongolia a few Decembers ago. Despite their red robes and shaved heads and the fact they were spending their days in a giant monastery at the top of a windy hill where they were meant to be in dialogue with God, some of the 15 monk disciples had cellphones — Nokia cellphones — and most were fancier models than the one Chipchase was carrying.

This is when I voiced a careless thought about whether there might be something negative about the lightning spread of technology, whether its convenience was somehow supplanting traditional values or practices. Chipchase raised his eyebrows and laid down his spoon. He sighed, making it clear that responding to me was going to require patience. Are you going to take my sewer and water away too?

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For the last year , Chipchase has been working on a project he calls Future Urban, the goal of which is to explore what the cities of tomorrow will be like. Share it with the world. Prizes were offered. So far, people had shown up to sketch their dream phone. Slums, by sheer virtue of the numbers, are going to start mattering more and more, Chipchase postulated. In the name of preparing Nokia for this shift, he, Jung and Tulusan, along with a small group of others, spent several weeks in various shantytowns — in Mumbai, in Rio, in western China and now here in Ghana.

People in the mobile-handset business talk about adding customers not by the millions but by the billions, if only they could get the details right. How do you make a phone that can be repaired by a streetside repairman who may not have access to new parts? Or a phone that picks up distant signals in a rural place, holds a charge off a car battery longer or that can double as a flashlight during power cuts? Even as sales continue to grow, it is yet to be seen whether the mobile phone will play a significant, sustained role in alleviating poverty in the developing world.

Network towers are not particularly cost-effective in remote areas, where power is supplied by diesel fuel. And the only way companies are going to sell phones is to understand what those barriers are. The company is also testing wind- and solar-powered base stations in Namibia, which could bring down the cost of connecting remote areas to cellular networks. Many of the people in Buduburam who came to sketch their ideas for a perfect phone at the Nokia studio did not actually own one. But when I paged through the fat three-ring binders where the Nokia team was storing those sketches, it was evident that the future, or at least some vision of it, had already arrived.

Some of the drawings were basic pencil sketches; others were strikingly elaborate, with arrows pointing to different dream features, which were really just a way of pointing — I realized then — to the dreams themselves. One Liberian refugee wanted to outfit a phone with a land-mine detector so that he could more safely return to his home village. In the Dharavi slum of Mumbai, people sketched phones that could forecast the weather since they had no access to TV or radio.

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Muslims wanted G. Someone else drew a phone shaped like a water bottle, explaining that it could store precious drinking water and also float on the monsoon waters. Several women sketched phones that would monitor cheating boyfriends and husbands. Interestingly, the recent post-election violence in Kenya provided a remarkable case study for the cellphone as an instrument of both war and peace.


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  4. After the government imposed a media blackout in late December last year, Kenyans sought news and information via S. Many also reported receiving unsolicited text messages to take up arms. The government responded with an admonition, sent, of course, via S. This may lead to your prosecution. As a joke, Chipchase sometimes pulls out his cellphone and pretends to shave his face with it, using a buzzing ring tone for comic effect. As cellphone technology grows increasingly sophisticated, it has cannibalized — for better or worse — the technologies that have come before it.

    Carrying a full-featured cellphone lessens your needs for other things, including a watch, an alarm clock, a camera, video camera, home stereo, television, computer or, for that matter, a newspaper. With the advent of mobile banking, cellphones have begun to replace wallets as well. That a phone might someday offer a nice close shave suddenly seems not so ridiculous after all.

    O ne morning I followed Chipchase as he waded deep into the Nima market, a hodgepodge of vegetable stalls and phone-booth-size stores selling sundries like candles and palm oil. One was long and wandlike, looking something like an aluminum version of a thick vanilla bean. Another was a slimmer rendering of an everyday phone but with no keypad and no screen, just a single unmarked button.

    Can the Cellphone Help End Global Poverty?

    A third did not look at all like a phone but rather like a credit card. A young man selling beans stared at each of the pretend phones uncomfortably, as if he mistrusted the devices or perhaps the small crowd of sweat-soaked foreigners suddenly leaning in close to see how he handled them. The bean seller tentatively lifted it to his ear. The man, still looking bewildered, nodded yes. Moments later, we came upon an ample-bodied woman dressed in a bright gold wrapper and matching head scarf, sifting rocks and twigs out of scoopfuls of corn beneath an umbrella in a quiet corner of the market.

    You know Nokia? The woman said nothing, but reached down and from the folds of her wrapper produced a Nokia phone.