Tuesday, November 17, 2009


The book Portfolios of the Poor: How the World's Poor Live on $2 a Day examines the financial decisions of poor people in India, Bangladesh, and South Africa. Seeing the problems they face and how they deal with them offers a fascinating view of world poverty.

Often the authors will use a specific example to illustrate a broader point. In a chapter on how the poor put together usefully large sums of money, they write:
Take a household like Sultan and Kanon's. This Bangladeshi couple rented a yard where they sorted and sold waste scavenged in their Dhaka slum, but Sultan was in his fifties and ailing, and the income he raised was rarely more than $1.50 a day. Just before the research year their 15-year-old daughter Sweetie had found a job in a garments factory at $28 a month plus occasional overtime, much of which she saved for her wedding while contributing her bit to the housekeeping: she married and left home just before the end of the year. (p. 99)
Sweetie was working for a sweatshop! If people in the West did not buy products from sweatshops, that garments factory would have been shut down and Sweetie would not have been exploited by the evil factory owners. Right?

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