Child labor is a pervasive problem throughout the global economy, especially in the markets of developing countries. With over 90% of the total child labor market employed in the rural areas of Asia and Africa largely due to lack of enforcement, it is argued that something has to be done. Although the majority of people are ethically appalled by child labor, and against the exploitation of children, is the worldwide eradication of the worst forms of child labor really a feasible alternative? To answer this question people have to take into account a variety of factors involving both the economic and social costs, as well as have a firm understanding of the situations people are faced with in these underdeveloped countries.
The International Labor Organization estimated that there were over 211 million working children between the ages of 5 and 14 in the year 2000, with over 73 million under the age of ten. When most people think of child labor, they visualize children working in sweatshops under poor conditions, for little pay. When in reality almost 80% of child laborers are employed in agricultural jobs. Regardless of the type of labor these children are performing, they are usually underpaid, overworked, and forced to work in unsafe environments. The exploitation of children and the social costs that are involved are considered highly immoral, especially by the general public in industrialized nations. But why is a practice that is condemned by so many, so rampant among impoverished nations? Industrialized countries have been asking third world nations to impose regulations and ban the practices of child labor for decades. This is ironic considering that countries such as the United Sta...
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...m, the worst kinds of child labor can at least be abolished, and children who work, can have some chance to work in a safer work environment.
International Labor Organization, 2000.World Labor Report. Geneva: International Labor Organization
Faraaz Siddiqi/Harry Partrinos, Child Labor: Issues, Causes, and Interventions, 1996
Douglas A. Irwin, Free Trade Under Fire, Chapter 6, 2002
Kaushik Basu, Child Labor: Cause, Consequence, and Cure, with Remarks on International Labor Standards, 1999
Krugman Paul, In Praise of Cheap Labor, 1997
The Department of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2001 Findings of the Worst Forms of Child Labor, 2002
International Labor Organization, International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour: 2000
Mehra-Kerpelman, K. 1996. Children at work: How many and where? World of Work 15:8-9.
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