Sweatshops in Asia: Background information when reading Secrets of Happiness

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Secrets of Happiness

by Joan Silber

Secrets of Happiness by Joan Silber X
Secrets of Happiness by Joan Silber
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  • First Published:
    May 2021, 288 pages
    Apr 26, 2022, 288 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Elisabeth Herschbach
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About this Book

Sweatshops in Asia

This article relates to Secrets of Happiness

Garment workers rally on anniversary of Rana Plaza collapse In Joan Silber's Secrets of Happiness, Ethan's father, Gil, has a lucrative career in the women's clothing industry, frequently jetting off to parts of Asia to oversee the outsourcing of production. Elsewhere in the book, a character named Bud takes a job with an organization in Cambodia campaigning to improve working conditions in garment factories, reminding us of the flip side of Gil's success—the cheap labor that drives the profits of clothing companies like his.

In a bid to maximize profits, Western fashion retailers began outsourcing in the 1970s, offshoring garment and textile manufacturing to countries with low overhead costs, particularly in Asia. Today, almost 60 percent of the world's textiles and clothing are produced in Asia, with China, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Vietnam accounting for the largest share. Across the Asia-Pacific region as a whole, an estimated 65 million people work in garment factories, according to the International Labour Organization. That ...

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