Report Documents Positive Impact of Living Wage at Alta Gracia

To:WRC Affiliate Universities and Colleges
From:Scott Nova and Ben Hensler
Date: September 1, 2015
Re:Report Documents Positive Impact of Living Wage at Alta Gracia

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to share with you a recent research report published in the medical journal, BMJ,that documents the positive impact living wages and improved working conditions have had on workers at the Alta Gracia factory in the Dominican Republic. BMJ, formerly the British Medical Journal, is a peer-reviewed publication and the official journal of the British Medical Association, the leading body of physicians in the United Kingdom.

As you know, the WRC helped to launch the Alta Gracia project, whose factory is the first export garment facility in the developing world that pays a verified living wage to workers – about three times the prevailing wage in the Dominican apparel industry. This living wage, combined with the factory’s exemplary compliance with university code standards, including the right to freedom of association, sets Alta Gracia apart from other suppliers of collegiate licensed apparel.

In this study, the WRC collaborated with researchers from the Stanford and UC San Francisco medical schools and the UC Berkeley School of Public Health. Their report compares, specifically, the mental health status of workers who earn a living wage at Alta Gracia with those of workers at a control factory, also in the Dominican Republic, that pays the lower prevailing wage.

The study found, in particular, that workers at Alta Gracia had significantly fewer symptoms of clinical depression compared with workers who were not earning a living wage.

Workers in developing countries face daily pressures in their home lives stemming from poverty, social violence, and lack of basic physical infrastructure and government safety nets. Garment workers in these countries often experience high levels of stress on the job, as well, where they often must meet excessive production demands and endure abusive treatment. A key objective of the Alta Gracia project has been to promote high labor rights standards in order to demonstrate a model of garment manufacturing that enhances quality of living –including both physical and psychological health – for workers who produce collegiate licensed apparel.

The findings of this study provide further evidence that living wages improve workers’ wellbeing, not only in important material terms, but in vital emotional and psychological terms as well. Moreover, significantly lowering rates of clinical depression is also a key factor in producing better short and long-term physical health outcomes for these employees.

Alta Gracia’s achievements would never have been possible without strong support from universities and colleges and we are hopeful that, with ongoing evidence of its significant positive impact on workers’ lives, this support will continue and grow. The WRC continues to vigorously monitor code of conduct compliance at Alta Gracia and is pleased to share with you the impressive results that are being achieved by your support of this factory.



Scott Nova 
Worker Rights Consortium 
5 Thomas Circle NW, 5th Floor
Washington, DC 20005 
ph 202 387 4884 
fax 202 387 3292 
[email protected]