Something we’ve suspected all along: It isn’t that Foxconn has an abnormally high suicide rate. The suicides are actually, per capita, less than the average in China.
The issue here is that Foxconn is mind-bendingly big. It has 500,000-800,000 employees overall and 300,000 alone in that plant in Shenzen that makes all of those iPads that we love so much.
We can’t possibly imagine how many people that is.
To put it in perspective, Foxconn is 1/5th the size of New Zealand. The country.
Four US states, Alaska, Wyoming, Vermont, and North Dakota are smaller than Foxconn. That means that there are more people going to work at Foxconn than every man, woman, child and elderly person in four US states.
If you’ve ever seen a Michigan-Ohio State game, Foxconn employees could fill one of those stadiums eight times over!
OK, you get the point. They have a lot of employees. And the suicide rate is high in China in general. So these suicides aren’t abnormal. In fact, they are below average. However, since they are high profile, they are followed closely.
Any suicide is incredibly tragic and it seems China’s rate could certainly be improved. It’s only slightly less tragic from an American point of view that people sign up by the thousand to work 80/hours a week doing mundane jobs that often involve hazardous conditions for $130/month.
You have to wonder how bad their alternatives are.