Working Conditions in Madagascar’s Apparel Industry: Comparing Export and Domestic Market Firms

Kristoffer Marslev, Lindsay Whitfield

Publikation: Working paperForskning

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The apparel export industry in Madagascar is one of the largest in Sub-Saharan Africa, yet limited data exists on the conditions of its 180,000 predominantly female workers. This paper draws on new ILO quantitative and qualitative data generated in 2021 and 2022 to provide a systematic mapping of wages and working conditions in Madagascar’s apparel industry. The analysis shows important variations by end market. While workers in export firms are more likely to do excessive overtime and have inadequate rest time, they earn higher wages and enjoy better social protections such as paid leave, insurance, pension, and maternity. In contrast, nearly half of workers in firms producing for the domestic market earn incomes below the national minimum wage and have limited social benefits. These findings point to a paradox in which workers in export firms are more exploited in terms of their labor power but better off in terms of wages and benefits. The paper attributes these differences to the governance dynamics of global apparel supply chains, in which buyers on the one hand require suppliers to meet certain social standards and to comply with domestic labor laws, but on the other hand impose high flexibility demands that incentivize excessive overtime and work intensification. In both export and domestic market firms, however, wages fall severely below living wage benchmarks. In the context of high levels of absolute poverty in Madagascar and even lower incomes in agriculture, there is not much upwards pressure on wages and working conditions from the labor market.
UdgiverCentre for Business and Development Studies
Antal sider34
ISBN (Elektronisk)9788797317075
StatusUdgivet - 2023
NavnCBDS Working Paper


  • Apparel
  • Madagascar
  • Global value chains
  • Working conditions
  • Decent work
  • Wages