Poverty, Education and Labor

3831 Words16 Pages
Poverty, Education and Labor

In 2002 the International Labor Organization (ILO) estimated that 210 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 were working, nearly half full time. While this statistic is troubling in and of itself, perhaps even more troubling is that for most of these children work takes the place of school. As poverty forces children into labor throughout the developing world, Third World populations remain stuck in a vicious cycle of poverty that cannot be broken until education is the primary occupation of school-age children. Many politicians and mainstream media members advocate strict child labor protection laws or mandatory school attendance laws as a quick fix to the child labor problem. However, data from both contemporary child labor epidemics in Asia and Africa as well as evidence from the eradication of child labor in the United States and Europe during the Industrial Revolution suggests that legislation alone may not be effective. Legislation is often difficult or impossible to enforce and full of loopholes. Although legislation does play a role in speeding up the decline of child labor, the first step to eradicating child labor comes in technological improvements that increase the demand for skilled adult labor and increases in real wages, which eases the economic burden of schooling. An economy cannot undergo technological advancements without a well-educated populace, which cannot develop as long as children remain working rather than attending school. Given the ineffectiveness of child labor laws in an undeveloped economy the first step towards eliminating child labor is providing a monetary incentive for parents to send their children to school. Wages earned by children are a...

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