Child Labour

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Essay on Child Labor

Instead of aiming at abolishing child labor, should policy makers look for alternative approaches. Parents feel compelled to send their children to work as a means of survival.

Although not immediately apparent, a simple ban on child labor does not prove effective in ridding of it. Therefore, integrative efforts should be made in conjunction with eliminating child labor. Instead of waiting for the natural economic growth to slowly remove child labor, the government and policy makers may intervene by offering incentives. Integrative policies include improved schooling, trade union involvement, school meals, and income subsidies. To find alternative means of addressing child labor where it prevails on a larger scale after establishing it as the perpetrator of such maladies as reduced adult wages, adult unemployment, and negative impact on human capital.

Child Labor is a prevalent problem throughout the world especially in developing countries. Children work for a variety of reasons, the most important being poverty and the induced pressure upon them to escape from this plight. Though children are not well paid, they still serve as major contributors to family income in developing countries.

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Schooling problems also contribute to child labor, whether it be the inaccessibility of schools or the lack of quality education which spurs parents to enter their children in more profitable pursuits. Traditional factors such as rigid cultural and social roles in certain countries further limit educational attainment and increase child labor.

Denying the right of education and the possibility to achieve complete physical and psychological development, child labor serves as a source of exploitation and abuse.

In my definition of child labor throughout this paper, a child qualifies as a laborer if the child performs economic activity on a regular basis that provides output for the market.

Since numbers are often underreported, determining the actual prevalence of child labor exhibits problems. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimated in 1995 that around 250 million children between the ages of five and fourteen years old work for a salary or wage in the world.1 120 million of those counted worked full time. Certain geographical areas demonstrate higher child participation rates than others. The above figure relates only to full-time child labor, estimates would rise if part-time child labor were included. For instance in 1990, Europe shows a .10% rate, Latin America and Caribbean with 11.23%, Asia follows with a 15.19% rate and Africa with the highest rate of 27.87%.2 Many of these children work in dangerous occupations, such as agriculture or factories. Over 70% of children work in agriculture, hunting, forestry, and fishing. The second highest sector in terms of the percentage of child workers is manufacturing with 8.3%. Wholesale and retail trade, restaurants and hotels have the same percentage as manufacturing.

However, the informal economy conceals many unaccounted child laborers. From small businesses to micro-enterprises, unsafe working conditions, low productivity, minimal returns to investment and low to no wages all characterize informal work.

The ILO reports of the informal economy as: The expanding and increasingly diverse group of workers and enterprises in both the rural and urban areas operating informally,they share one important characteristic: they are not recognized or protected under the legal and regulatory frameworks. Informal workers and entrepreneurs are characterized by a high degree of vulnerability.

This type of economy accounts for the most child laborers, especially due to its ability to spillover into other economic sectors. For instance, an organized commercial agricultural estate may form an agreement for some production by a smaller family farm or a multinational corporation may...
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