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The Effects of International Scrutiny on Manufacturing Workers: Evidence from the Rana Plaza Collapse in Bangladesh


  • Bossavie, Laurent

    (World Bank)

  • Cho, Yoon Y.

    (World Bank)

  • Heath, Rachel

    (University of Washington)


After the tragic factory collapse of Rana Plaza in 2013, both the direct reforms and indirect responses of retailers have plausibly affected workers in the Ready Made Garment (RMG) sector in Bangladesh. These responses included a minimum wage increase, high profile but voluntary audits, and an increased reluctance to subcontract to smaller factories. This paper uses six rounds of the Labor Force Survey and adopts a synthetic control approach to evaluate the net effects of these changes on garment workers. While we find that working conditions did improve, we find evidence of adverse effects on several other outcomes for workers. In particular, while the reforms initially increased female workers' wages, their wages had fallen an estimated 20 percent three years after Rana Plaza. We also show suggestive evidence that female workers' contracts displayed a similar short-term increase and ultimate long-term decrease. Male workers, by contrast, if anything experienced only short-term adverse effects.

Suggested Citation

  • Bossavie, Laurent & Cho, Yoon Y. & Heath, Rachel, 2020. "The Effects of International Scrutiny on Manufacturing Workers: Evidence from the Rana Plaza Collapse in Bangladesh," IZA Discussion Papers 13782, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp13782

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    Cited by:

    1. Alonso Alfaro-Urena & Benjamin Faber & Cecile Gaubert & Isabela Manelici & Jose P. Vasquez, 2022. "Responsible Sourcing? Theory and Evidence from Costa Rica," CESifo Working Paper Series 10108, CESifo.
    2. Pamina Koenig & Sandra Poncet, 2019. "Reputation and (un)fair trade: Effects on French importers from the Rana Plaza collapse," Post-Print halshs-02350112, HAL.
    3. Koenig, Pamina & Poncet, Sandra, 2022. "The effects of the Rana Plaza collapse on the sourcing choices of French importers," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 137(C).
    4. Rafael Araujo & Francisco Costa & Teevrat Garg, 2022. "Public Attention and Environmental Action: Evidence from Fires in the Amazon," CESifo Working Paper Series 9897, CESifo.
    5. Aleksandra Draganić & Nazmul Arefin, 2021. "Social Sustainability Challenges and the Role of Middle Managers: Case of the Ready-Made Garment Industryin Bangladesh," ICDD Working Papers 28, University of Kassel, Fachbereich Gesellschaftswissenschaften (Social Sciences), Internatioanl Center for Development and Decent Work (ICDD).
    6. Fernandes,Ana Margarida & Kee,Hiau Looi, 2020. "Gender Empowerment, Supply-Chain Linkages and Foreign Direct Investment : Evidence on Bangladesh," Policy Research Working Paper Series 9340, The World Bank.
    7. Tanvir Chowdhury & Shakil Mohammad Rifaat & Richard Tay, 2022. "Characteristics of Pedestrians in Bangladesh Who Did Not Receive Public Education on Road Safety," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 14(16), pages 1-11, August.
    8. Ana M. Fernandes & Hiau Looi Kee, . "Women empowerment, supply chain linkages and FDI: evidence from Bangladesh," UNCTAD Transnational Corporations Journal, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

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    More about this item


    garment sector; working conditions; gender; minimum wage;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J32 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Nonwage Labor Costs and Benefits; Retirement Plans; Private Pensions
    • J81 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Working Conditions
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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