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


  • Bossavie,Laurent Loic Yves
  • Cho,Yoonyoung
  • Heath,Rachel


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 difference-in-difference approach to evaluate the net effects of these changes on garment workers, compared with workers in plausible control groups. Although employers have improved working conditions as intended by the reforms, the authors evidence adverse effects on several dimensions workers'outcomes in the years following Rana Plaza. While the reforms initially increased female workers'wages and the likelihood to hold a formal contract in the months that immediately followed Rana Plaza, they then declined in the following years. In contrast, no adverse effect is detected for male workers. The results suggest that regulations initially aimed at helping workers can have unintended adverse effects on some dimensions of workers'outcomes.

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  • Bossavie,Laurent Loic Yves & Cho,Yoonyoung & Heath,Rachel, 2019. "The Effects of International Scrutiny on Manufacturing Workers : Evidence from the Rana Plaza Collapse in Bangladesh," Policy Research Working Paper Series 9065, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:9065

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Raluca Dragusanu & Eduardo Montero & Nathan Nunn, 2018. "The Effects of Fair Trade Certification: Evidence from Coffee Producers in Costa Rica," NBER Working Papers 24260, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    6. Naved, Ruchira & Rahman, Tabassum & Willan, Samantha & Jewkes, Rachel & Gibbs, Andrew, 2018. "Female garment workers’ experiences of violence in their homes and workplaces in Bangladesh: A qualitative study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 196(C), pages 150-157.
    7. Brian K. Kovak, 2013. "Regional Effects of Trade Reform: What Is the Correct Measure of Liberalization?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(5), pages 1960-1976, August.
    8. Rachel Heath, 2018. "Why Do Firms Hire Using Referrals? Evidence from Bangladeshi Garment Factories," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 126(4), pages 1691-1746.
    9. Begum, F. & Ali, R.N & Hossain, M.A & Shahid, Sonia B., 2010. "Harassment of women garment workers in Bangladesh," Journal of the Bangladesh Agricultural University, Bangladesh Agricultural University Research System (BAURES), vol. 8.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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).
    2. Pamina Koenig & Sandra Poncet, 2019. "Reputation and (un)fair trade: Effects on French importers from the Rana Plaza collapse," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-02350112, HAL.
    3. 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.
    4. Pamina Koenig & Sandra Poncet, 2019. "Reputation and (un)fair trade: Effects on French importers from the Rana Plaza collapse," Post-Print halshs-02350112, HAL.
    5. 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


    Work&Working Conditions; Gender and Development; International Trade and Trade Rules; Labor Markets;
    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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