Tim Worstall comments on the reality of Bangladesh
Ain’t This A Bleedin’ Change?
The country is moving ahead to become a strong economy in the next decade, with its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) reaching the $465-billion mark in 2022.
Bangladesh was the second largest economy in South Asia after India and ranked 35th among the largest economies of the world,
5 years ago I wrote the following:
In a piece of his talking about how sweatshops ain’t great but they’re better than what poor places have to offer as an alternative Krugman says something like “even Bangladesh”. On the basis that 120 million people on the flood plains of the Himalayan rivers, with little other than the people and the flood plains, has always been one of those places where the development specialists and planners go “Well, what the fuck do we do here?”
Which rather speaks to this comment on the blog here:
I’ve become more optimistic since taking the time to read Tim’s Register and Forbes articles. I like that the world is getting richer. I didn’t realise how much and how quickly.
They’re having an industrial revolution, something that’s not pretty nor nice up close but it is happening. And like most other places that have had one they’re starting in textiles. Here it’s making up the garments, not the weaving or spinning. But that industry employs 4 million and produces 82% of exports.
It’s the old thing. The options are staring at the south end of a north moving water buffalo or the factory. And the water buffalo option produces an income (including domestic production of rice etc) of perhaps 2,000, maybe 3,000 takka a month. 20 to 30 quid. Rickshaw drivers get about the same. One thing I noted was that they’re direct drive, no gears on them. Asked around and gears are considered too expensive…..that’s a certain level of poverty, no? A short rickshaw ride is 10 takka. Got to do a lot of 10 p rides to make a living….
Minimum wage in the factories is 5,000 takka. Time and a half for overtime etc (not included in that number and min wage goes to the new entrants, no training etc). As ever in these sorts of industries the “names” pay better, offer free school for the kiddies, health care etc. The penumbra of subcontractors don’t. A typical career path is off the paddy into the subcontractor factory, a year or two later, with some experience and training under the belt, into one of the main contractors.
Yes, these are shitty wages and neither you nor I would want to try to live like that (note they’re at market exchange rates, not PPP, they understate the standard of living quite a bit, at UK prices think more like £150 a month). But the change wanted, the change desired, is happening.
The world’s getting better for hundreds of millions of people, great gobs and chunks at a time.
As David Tufte says:
If you care about people, the economic growth over the last generation is one of the most important stories in all 5,000 years of human civilization.
But bugger me, it is working. Ain’t that fucking grand?