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Child Labor Essay

1506 words - 7 pages

| Essay, Custom Research Paper: Argumentative Essay on Child Labor Laws and Regulations |
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| Child labor occurs along a continuum, with harmful and exploitative work that endangers the welfare and potential of the child at one end of the spectrum and light work and often beneficial training and apprenticeship at the other. National and international labor standard regulations with respect to what constitutes a legally permissible minimum age of employment accordingly depend typically on a range of criteria including (a) the type of work, as distinguished by the degree of hazard a child faces, or whether the child is subject to exploitation, or the worst forms of child labor; (b) ...view middle of the document...

The absolute incidence of child labor is the highest in Asia (excluding Japan), which hosts around 127 million economically active children, followed by Africa and the Middle East (61 million) and Latin America (17 million). Increasingly, child labor occurs in southern Europe and in the transitional economies of central and eastern Europe. The participation rate of child labor is highest in Africa, where approximately one out of every three children (29 percent) is economically active. In Asia and in Latin America, the figures stand at 19 percent and 16 percent, respectively. Taken together, however, these contemporary statistics still fall short compared with the incidence of child labor in 19th-century, newly industrializing countries, including Britain, France, Belgium, western parts of Prussia, and the United States.Poverty has been a central theme in child labor research. Income from child labor often constitutes a significant part of household income in poor households, yet child labor employment can also depress adult wages. Left unchecked, a vicious cycle of poverty may ensue in which low adult wages become both the cause and the effect of child labor employment. A related concern is the impact of child labor on fertility decisions. The lack of education as a child, low adult income, and a desire to ensure old age consumption can bias household decisions in favor of an increase in the quantity of children rather than the quality of children through education. A similar vicious cycle of poverty and child labor can likewise ensue, as underinvestment in education in one generation begets underinvestment in the next.Other pertinent determinants of child labor include (a) credit market failures in the financing of education, (b) the lack of consumption smoothing mechanisms in the face of income uncertainty and seasonal employment, (c) coordination failures on the part of households to bargain for higher wages, (d) failures on the part of households and firms to coordinate education and technology adoption decisions, (e) lack of access to quality education, (f) social stigma and norms, with respect to child labor employment and female schooling, (g) birth order effects, (h) family migration and dislocation from family networks, and (i) low female educational attainment.In addition to these household-level determinants, a burgeoning literature examines the link between economy-wide factors and child labor. These include ineffective enforcement of legislation to combat child labor, particularly in informal sectors and rural areas; inequality in the distribution of income; trade liberalization; an economy's dependence on agriculture; and political economy considerations.Running parallel to these correlates of child labor are international and national policy responses to combat child labor employment. With widespread acknowledgment that poverty is a primary cause of child labor, poverty alleviation and policies promoting adult income naturally...

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