I wish Paul Krugman would provide the text that goes with the slides from his lecture on the "Problems of Globalization" (PDF) but they're fascinating.
The last one puts Bangladesh's GDP per capita in the context of American history. It's common to compare Bangladesh to America's own sweatshop era in the late-19th century, but Krugman shows that Bangladesh is actually much poorer than that.
Just by looking at broad statistical aggregates, the cause seems to be extraordinarily low living standards in rural Bangladesh. Fully 45 percent of the the Bangladeshi labor force is employed in the agricultural sector, but it only generates 18.4 percent of the country's overall economic output. Agriculture is a "special" kind of economic sector because labor productivity in agriculture tends to decline as you crowd more and more people onto finite land. In America, relatively small numbers of farmers plow vast fields with the assistance of machines. In rural Asia, people engage in endless hours of backbreaking labor with few tools on small plots of land. Going way back, America has always been rich in land taken from Native Americans, and that set a "floor" for urban misery that was probably higher than what you'd see today in Bangladesh.
TODAY IN SLATE
The Self-Made Man
The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.
The GOP Senate Candidate in Iowa Doesn’t Want Voters to Know Just How Conservative She Really Is
Does Your Child Have “Sluggish Cognitive Tempo”? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?
The Supreme Court, Throughout Its History, Has Been a Massive Disappointment
Why Indians in America Are Mad for India’s New Prime Minister
Now Stare. Don’t Stop.
The perfect political wife’s loving gaze in campaign ads.
You Deserve a Pre-cation
The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.