Does your home have a toilet?
In response to several comments on my previous post “Would you work for $2.50/Hour“, I want to debunk the myth that offshoring and paying very low wages is OK because their cost of living is lower. Before I begin, I want to preface my opinions by stating that global economics is far too complex of a subject for any one opinion to be considered authoritative. There are many valid points of view which I respect. My goal is to educate you and inspire you to do your own research so that you can make informed purchasing decisions.
It’s not necessarily that the cost of living is lower; rather the standard of living is lower. I’m going to use India as example.
Does your home have a toilet with running water? Chances are 2 out of 3 Indians you hired for your last project don’t.
If you are a professional living in a developed country, you would not expect to live in the types of accommodations available to the average “middle class” Indian. The average one-bedroom apartment in the city center of Mumbai is the equivalent of about $500 US dollars, but the quality of that apartment is not the same as the average apartment in Atlanta’s city center that cost 3x that. 32% of urban residences are 1 room households. 68% do not have a toilet with sewer access. Almost 20% don’t have a toilet in the home at all. 87% do not have a bathing facility inside the house. You would never find a “middle class” home in the US that does not have an indoor toilet, bath, or shower.
In addition, the average household in India is 5.2 people; in the US, it’s 2.6.* Many of those households are supported by 1 skilled worker – the one you are willing to pay less than minimum wage.
I’m not in any way suggesting that offshoring work is bad. It is good to help the economies of emerging markets. What is bad is denying them the opportunity to aspire to our standard of living by paying them low wages based on a myth that justifies unethical business transactions.
*These statistics are from the 2011 census and are specific to urban areas of India, the rural areas are far worse off. http://www.prb.org/Publications/Articles/2012/india-2011-census.aspx