A occupational choice of factory workers in currently

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                                        A study of moral implications of captive

                                                           By Ana Popovici, University of Amsterdam

             Morals and ethics are
generally considered to be dynamic concepts. Currently, a general definition
would consist of the adequate interaction between two parties, taking into
account the implications of what is considered right and wrong within the
status quo. What was economically accepted 160 years ago is rarely still
considered proper today. Thus, moral and intrinsic values are largely based on
our traditional background and our aim of achieving emotional stability (Wight,
J.B., 2015). One dramatic example of a market that shifted it’s generally
accepted status can be considered the market for slavery. It would be nearly
impossible to imagine such an institution still functioning today, however, in
1860 there were more than 25 million slaves worldwide. Despite the evolution of
our principles, worker markets are still largely controversial today. Many
labourers are still forced into dangerous and uncompensated practices, that put
them at both physical and pshychological risk.

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             From an economic
perspective, human capital is perceived as one of the most important factors of
production and can be defined as the human action of creating a finite product
with the intent of consuming it or performing economic transactions for it
(Scruton, R., 2007). In the modern economy there are a variety of factors
affecting the labour conditions. Those factors differ from country to country,
but some of the most important are: legislation, the level of economic
development, and labour mobility (Scruton, R., 2007).

            Labour mobility refers
to the fluidity of employees within the labour market, from both an
occupational and a geographical standpoint. Captive workers are generally
perceived as workers who do not exhibit this trait (Scruton, R. 2007). The
situation of each captive employee differs greatly from the contextual
situation and could be addressed from numerous perspectives. One of them is the
limited occupational choice of factory workers in currently less
economically  developed countries. This
mostly occurs due to generally low educational levels, as a possible
consequence developing living standards and high relative poverty. Another is the
almost inexistent geographical and labour mobility of prison workers. Their
situation is morally acceptable due to their failure to conform to cultural
norms. As the prisoners circumstances are unique it can be difficult to assess
wether the work is justifiable, or not.

              This academic paper
will present an analysis of the extent to which the financial benefits gained
by captive workers exceed the gains from education. The first part will focus
on the American prison labour industry and the returns for inmates once they
are reintegrated into society. The second part will be a thorough analysis of
child labour from the perspective of educational development and the impact on
future generations.  The research method
used for this paper is based on formarly published academic papers and their
reached conclusions.


             Prison labour is one
of the most time filling activities of inmates all over the world. It is
currently no longer used as a punishment device, even though workers within the
system have no say about their labour conditions, under international law.
Thus, they experience high occupational immobility in the sense that they may
not choose what work to perform in exchange for their wage ( Guilbaud, F.,
2010). Historically, the main aim of prison labour was developing the inmate’s
ability to earn a socially accepted living after release through the provision
of training in different trades, that aimed to develop their manual labour
skills and facilitate their reintegration (United Nations, Dept. of Economic
and Social Affairs, 1955). From the prisoner’s perspective, the work can also
be seen as a form of social interaction with other inmates and as a time
spending method. There is, however, no mention of inmates perceiving work as a
method of reintegration into society through acquiring new skills. (Guibaud,
F., 2010) After 1955, prison labour was not compulsory in the United States,
but many correctional institutions used it for the profit it entitles and the
cheap labour force.

              Since 1976 there have
been a significant number of inmates engaging in labour activities for private
companies. The biggest programme in America is currently the Federal Prison
Industries, which in 2016 earned $500m from selling goods produced by the
inmates. (The Economist 2017). As a central focus, the captive employees are
mostly trained in manufacturing jobs such as making mattresses and road signs.
On average each inmate gets $0.90 per hour. There are also other similar programmes
which mostly focus on low skilled work and are applicable only at state level,
not federal. All in all, the American prison labour industry shows a
significant gain for the investors, but uncertain returns for the inmates
themselves. This paper will, therefore, discuss the returns of convict
reintegration in society as employees after release, and if the work they
performed is more valuable than the education they could have been offered.

                Currently, there is
an ongoing tendency of the previously incarcerated workers to go back to prison
after being freed( Almost 50% are returning to prison in a time spam of five
years; according to the US federal prisons statistics). This especially shows
that there is inefficiency within the reintegration framework provided by
manual work in prison and that, in many cases, captive labour is not a
functioning rehabilitation programme. (Clear, T.R., 2010). This mostly occurs
as the manufacturing workers are not as needed in the USA as they were decades
ago and most skills (such as sawing) are not applicable in the community
anymore. Therefore, this underlines the significant moral implication of how
the little occupational mobility, given by the manufacturing works, deprives
inmates of reintegrating in society. Not only does the little occupational
mobility affect the convicts themselves, but has a greater impact on recidivism
rate which, in effect, imposes a greater risk to society (Cooney, T.M., 2012).
Thus, it can be observed that the gains of the work after release are not at
all substantial. This shows that alternative programmes should be implemented.
One of the solutions would consist of creating a sustainable education, that is
attractive to inmates and decreases their marginalizing once freed.

               In Florida, more than 80% of inmates test
below ninth grade levels, which is rather concerning and shows that convict
education might have a significant effect on the future American workforce.
(the impact being further exacerbated as America has more than 1.6 million
people incarcerated). Empirical data shows that 65% of inmates who completed
the GED programme were employed within the first year after release, this is
compared to non-completers where the percentage was 62,2%. Superficially, it
appears that education did not have a large impact, but the study was only
conducted regionally in just one of the many of Florida’s prisons. As the rate
of employment is indeed higher for the inmates that completed the programme,
future improvements could be made in the system so that education becomes more
attractive to convicts and better occupation mobility is obtained in the long
run. (Cho R.M., & Tyler H.J., 2013). 
Another important aspect of education in prison is represented by the
decrease in the recidivism rate of the inmates that accepted to take part in
the courses. The main reasons for this reduction are the newly gained
motivation and work ethic that ex-convicts are acquiring. Thus, the educational
programme can indeed make a significant change, whilst respecting current
normal norms of morality and giving inmates more freedom with their choices.
(Haidi, M., Wan Azlinda Wan, M., 2015).

           On the other hand, there
is also an extended analysis on how prison labour creates marketable working
skills and indeed helps inmates reintegrate in society, outweighing the
benefits received by education. One such example is the Pride enterprise in
Florida’s correctional institutions. The conglomerate claims to offer inmates
facilitated assimilation in society and a wide range of job opportunities. This
is known as the “Working model” initiative. The programme puts great
emphasis on teaching the work ethic that many inmates lack. Implemented in 6
different phases, the captive workers have time to get accustomed to the new schedule.
Furthermore, last phase helps former convicts to find a placement and provides
sustained help through post-release services. (Mann, T.J., 1997). The model has
indeed improved recidivism rates and has shown constant results. Therefore, it
can be concluded that prison work might indeed provide a safe rehabilitation
opportunity and that the skills acquired by the workers bring a general
improvement in the society. 

               A newer solution is
considering teaching inmates web developing skills and interface computer
programming. It is too early to tell if the results will show an improved
situation in the long run, but recent events demonstrate that workers found
facilitated work especially in the Northern California area (The Economist
2017).  However, this working programme
involves educating the inmates and teaching them new skills. Therefore, a
combination of educational programmes and working initiative could in the
future reduce recidivism rate and increase the total welfare of both society
and the released inmates.

              All in all, from the
aforementioned information we can deduct that working initiatives in American
prisons have the potential to reduce recidivism and provide employment
opportunities. However, those programmes are only viable when involving the
education of inmates alongside the teaching of marketable working skills.
Prisoners previously forced into manual work face low reintegration rates and
high unemployment, and as such, in this situation, they have no financial gains
once they are freed from prison. A more detailed study of how the combination
of education and working skills would help the reintegration of prisoner could
be conducted in the future to show the statistical result on moral and financial
gain after liberation. The study and implementation could use the Nordic prison
system guideline, that was shown as successful for many decades. (Nordic
ministerradet, 2000)


                   Child labour is
a topic of great moral complexity. When discussed, it should incorporate all
parties that might be involved: from parents, to the factory owners. It is
believed that there are more than 168 million children working today, with the
biggest majority residing in Asian developing countries. One of the main causes
for the phenomenon is the poor financial situations of the families. As such,
many of them depend on the children’s income and would prefer the money over
letting them study in school. Thus, they have little to no say in their work
practices and are obligated to follow the parental instructions (Buck, T.,
2014). At the last measurement taken in 2015, Bangladesh aliteracy rate of 72.76%
(according to contryeconomy.com) and approximately 12 million children working
in sweatshops. (ILO.org). As such, 7.4% children are denied their right to
education, leisure and play (Children rights according to The UN Declaration of
Human Rights) because of their work in the RMG (Ready-made garment) industry.
The impact of these statistics is likely to perpetuate the intergenerational
poverty cycle that is still predominant in the developing country. (Ferdous,
A., 2013). The discussion to be made will focus on whether the financial gain
outweighs the educational gain of child workers, or not.

                It has been shown
that former child laborers are indeed more prone to diminished long-term
earnings. (Passo, A., 2017).  This is a
result of hindered cognitive development caused by lack of time for
child-appropriate activates, particularly education. The lower income is an
essential cause of the poverty cycle and shows that the off-springs of the
considered group might also end up having the same occupation as their parents.
(Passo, A., 2017). Overall, this causes diminished economic welfare and shows
that child labour is indeed not justified by future financial gains, as it
impedes the development of the next generations, not adding any benefit in the
long term. Furthermore, empirical data has shown that Bangladeshi children have
a positive RORE. (Rate of return to education). The positive rate indicates
that it is attractive for Bangladeshi households to sustain the education of
their youngsters. As such, the returns from education, in this case, exceed the
returns from alternative investments (i.e. sending the children to work)
(Najeeb Shafiq, M., 2007). This further accentuates the view that in the
long-run, the access to education will improve the living standards of the
families, and that child labour is not justified and the moral mean of gaining
additional income. Also, it underlines the future benefit and the financial
gain that could be added to the poorer population, eventually leading to higher
living standards and economic growth.

                       On the other
hand, there are studies that also show a reduced impact of child labour on
educational achievement. Those results are particularly focused on rural areas,
where children are often asked to perform tasks around the household or as part
of the community. Data has shown that those type of tasks develop the child’s
work ethic without impeding the access to education ( mostly considering
primary school attendance). Moreover, the data shows that there is no
correlation between the health of the children and the tasks performed. Thus,
it can be argued that non-intensive child labour would be beneficial for the
future development of the children and would add a bonus to family income,
making it easier for the families to escape poverty. ( Kana, M., Phoumin, H. &
Seiichi, F.,  2010). Unfortunately, this
can only be applied in cases where the work is not excessive and the indirect
cost of education is not substantial. Thus, only asset owning parents are able
to control the hours of work children perform.

the initiative of the parents is dependent on the income offered to the
children. As such, the lower the possible income, the lower the gain from child
labour and thus, fewer children are forced into labour. (Shafiq, M., 2007). From
this, it can be understood that there might be a moral and sustainable way of
performing child labour. However, the practice is only applicable to a limited
proportion of the population and involves a strict control of the hours worked
by the children and the safety of the tasks performed. Institutions could introduce
welfare and educational programmes, that would ensure the development of the
children, whilst not depriving families of the additional income they gains as
a result of child labour. In the long run, this would translate to a more
mobile workforce and higher occupational mobility as a result of increased
education. Therefore, adding an advantage to the generations to follow. It is
also very important to keep in mind that the lower the wage offered to
children, the lower is the incentive for child work. However, this is morally
controversial as the low wage would no cover in many cases the indirect cost of
education in Bangladesh, and would force the households into more illegitimate
work contracts and more risky workplaces.

               In conclusion, there
are alternative views to both of the presented themes in the essay. While the
question of morality cannot be answered for certain in either of the topics,
the general theme of captive markets, from a development perspective, can be
underlined. For inmates, as for child workers, the lack of choice imposed by
either poverty or the correctional facility, brings uncertain returns for the
development of both parties.

             At the present moment, there are little
prison programmes that show a sustainable effect on recidivism and inmate
education. Manufacturing works add little to no improvement in the skills of
the convicts and the occupational immobility experienced by the prisoners is
intensified once they are let go. Therefore, the markets based on prison
workers intensify the recidivism rate and do not add significant economic value
to the society. The situation is further exacerbated as America is a developed
nation that would benefit from more education-oriented strategies, rather than
manufacturing jobs. Low employments rates after incarceration show there is
little to no financial benefit for the prisoners. Thus, a combination of
educational programmes and working hours would be preferable for the social
reintegration of the convicts. Future research is to be done on the
effectiveness of such initiatives and on the exact data concerning financial
status after liberation

           Many developing Asian
countries are faced with decreasing, but still relatively high poverty rates.
Rural communities are struggling with high occupational and geographical labour
mobility and are dependent on the work of every member of their village. Child
workers are often faced with choosing between an education and helping their
families with additional income. The situation is even more controversial as
many households would not afford to send their offspring to school if not for
the additional wage. It is still uncertain if child labour does indeed bring
financial benefits that exceed the gain from more time spent on education and
leisure activities. Higher institutions could introduce better regulations and
microfinance programmes would increase the literacy rates, whilst still
ensuring families with the income they seek.

         All in all, both categories
of captive workers experience relatively more gain from alternative educational
activities than financial benefits from the already existing labour markets. In
both situations, the social impact is extensive, as the low incomes and high
occupational immobility perpetuates the poverty cycle and affects future
generations. More research is recommended on how we could introduce better
solutions that could improve the mobility of the workforce, whilst ensuring
their economic sustainability.




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