Date of Award


Document Type


Primary Advisor

Dr. Joseph Kilpatrick


The topic presented here closely examines the link between low-cost labor and the affect that it has on initiating industrialization in underdeveloped and developed countries. It can ultimately create a better standard of living for a country’s general population in the future, but the initial conditions for the laborers can be harsh. The low wage labor force achieves this goal by creating a competitive labor market which has the ability to stimulate economic growth. Once the initial steps of creating manufacturing and industry are achieved, then the general standard of living has robust potential to increase in the country as a whole. It is an idea that sacrifices may need to be made in the present in-order to benefit the future because without this initial sacrifice to boost growth, a country’s economy could remain largely stagnant. This thesis reviews the literature surrounding this topic and then uses historical statistics and data - with a focus on the countries of Vietnam, the People’s Republic of China, and Japan – to exemplify these trends. Economic growth, labor conditions, and the current and long term economic effects of low-cost labor are reviewed.