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For immediate release: March 29, 2006

Dallas Fed’s Economic Letter Examines Benefits of Export Apparel Manufacturing in Developing Economies

DALLAS—Despite arguments to the contrary by some advocacy groups, apparel and footwear exports from developing countries lead to more—not less—female school enrollment, according to the latest issue of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas’ Economic Letter.

Based on statistical tests performed in a study of 48 mainly low-income countries, Dallas Fed vice president and senior economist William C. Gruben and Fordham University associate economics professor Darryl McLeod maintain that the relatively high educational levels that apparel and shoe export manufacturers require induce increased female primary and secondary school enrollment rates, both absolutely and relative to male students.

“In short, the maligned suppliers of Nike, Gap and Wal-Mart encourage governments to educate women, give women a reason to stay in school and pay them well by local standards,” Gruben and McLeod write.

Staying longer in school means that fewer school-age children enter the workforce. The authors find statistical evidence that apparel and footwear export activity lowers the incidence of child labor.

The March 2006 issue of Economic Letter can be found at


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