Introduction due to poverty” (Siddiqua). However, these
Introduction Child labor has been a prominent issue in developing countries for hundreds of years; however, not enough is currently being done about it.
Millions of children in developing countries are still working long hours in hazardous working conditions with little pay. According to the International Labor Organization, the ILO, “There are at least 250 million children among 5?14 years of age are engaged in economic activities and most of them (120 million) are in developing countries” (Wadgave and Godale). Working children make up a significant amount out of all the children worldwide, and many of them are forced into labor as a result of economic distress.
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“78.7% child workers have been compelled to work due to poverty” (Siddiqua). However, these children have not seen much improvement to their quality of life. According to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, UNICEF, “Despite a steady decline in child labour, progress is far too slow. At current rates, more than 100 million children will still be trapped in child labour by 2020” (“Child Labour”). As it can be clearly seen that child labor rates in developing countries are still decreasing at insufficient rates, an increased amount and availability of social transfers should be looked at as a possible solution.
Economic Perspective: Child LaborersBeing forced into labor, children end up working in jobs where they are barely able to sustain themselves and their families. Child laborers often do not get to choose which job they will work, and they are stuck doing that job for a large portion of their lives. “Monthly income of the child workers is very low. There is no alternative job opportunity. So they are bound to work in low payment” (Siddiqua). Although many children hope to work in higher paying jobs, they are unable to do so because they cannot balance work and school.According the ILO, a specialized agency of the UN focused on setting favorable labor standards for everyone, “Since child labour competes with school attendance and proficiency, children sent to work do not accumulate (or under-accumulate) human capital, missing the opportunity to enhance their productivity and future earnings capacity.
This lowers the wage of their future families, and increases the probability of their offspring being sent to work. In this way poverty and child labour is passed on from generation to generation” (CITATION). Once a child is sent to work, they are not only impacting their future income, but also the chance of being able to send their future children to school. A child sent to work decreases the probability of their future children going to school because of their lowered wages.
Economic Perspective: Parents of Child LaborersThe poor economic state many parents living in developing countries are in often leaves them with no other choice other than to have their children work. Majority of children in the labor force work as a result of their family’s bad economic situation. According to a cross-sectional study done in Solapur city with the purpose of figuring out the reasons children end up working, “Out of 300 working children i.e., 226 (75.33%) had taken up the job due to inadequate family income followed by desire to assist the family to overcome the family financial problem” (Wadgave and Godale). The money these children make ends up being a very important amount of the overall family income that is crucial for their survival.
This leaves many children trapped in child labor with no other choice than to work long hours with very little wages in return. However, several parents still prefer not to send their children to work even when faced with terrible poverty, but if their economic situation gets any worse, they are faced with no other choice. According to Subhash Barman of the Indian Statistical Institute, “Despite extreme poverty, parents might not want to send their children for full time job. However, if the parents are hit by temporary economic crisis, then the additional income from child employment could be essential for survival” (Barman). Even when parents would rather not send their children to work, they are left with no choice when an economic crisis hits. Whether it be a family member dying or a parent losing their job, these crises are unexpected and force children into working long hours with little income in return.
Economic Perspective: Employers of Child Laborers On the other hand, there are people that child labor benefitsbecause their young age makes it easy for them to take advantage of them and reap tremendous economic benefits. First of all, the young age of child laborers makes it easy for employers to exploit them. After Dr. Rehena Siddiqua of ASA university interviewed twenty five employers of child laborers in Bangladesh, she concluded, “The employers take benefit of the tender age. They are interested to employ child labor because usually child workers are low paid and they work for a long time without any overtime payment.
The employer prefers children instead of adult because children can work swiftly, are easily controlled and have no bargaining capacity” (Siddiqua). Since child workers are “low paid” and “easily controlled,” employers are able to profit more from them opposed to adult workers. This is because their employers are easily able to manipulate them into working long hours for less money, giving them a higher profit. “The employers prefer to employ child labour to minimize the cost of production in order to get a higher margin of profit” (Barman). Child labor is also cheaper in the sense that children don’t get work benefits that adult laborers do.
According to a survey done by the NFHS, the National Family Health Survey, “As concerns the demand side, employers always prefer to employ child labour because they are cheaper than the adult labour and non-wage benefits such as medical insurance, provident fund or pensions are not accountable to the child labour” (Barman). Overall, the low wages and lack of benefits paired with the easy nature of children to be taken advantage of create a set of circumstances, which result in large economic gain for people that employ child laborers.Economic Solution: Increased Amounts of Social TransfersAlthough it is necessary to look at the social, political and ethical perspectives of this issue, economically, it is recommended to increase the amount and availability of social transfers given to children in developing countries. According to UNICEF, a worldwide organization that protects children’s rights, “One particularly effective solution is known as ‘social transfers’.
These are regular, reliable and direct transfers in cash and/or in kind to individuals or households” (“Child Labour”). Although these cash transfers will not benefit the people that employ child laborers, they will be able to help children and their families currently dealing with or are at a risk of being forced into child labor by giving them the economic resources required for children to be able to attend school and for their families to be protected from economic crisis. These cash transfers have already improved the economic state of children and their families in several places, and they will be able to help even more people if they are more of them, and if they are made more widely accessible.
In Brazil, “the average number of hours children worked decreased by 50 percent in three states where a social transfer programme was implemented” (“Child Labour”). In Panama, “a conditional cash transfer programme called Red de Oportunidades, led to a nearly 16 per cent reduction in child labour among children aged 12–15 years and to a nearly 8 per cent increase in elementary school enrolment” (“Child Labour”). By increasing the amount of social transfers given to children and their families and making them more accessible, social transfers will be able to economically assist millions of child laborers in developing countries all around the world.
Limitations of Social TransfersAlthough social transfers will be able to improve the economic status of millions of children living in developing countries all around the world, there are some limitations that need to be addressed. First of all, social transfers generally help boys more than girls. According to UNICEF, “The impacts of social transfers on child labour differ by region and by gender – with boys more likely to benefit than girls from reductions in child labour. This may be explained by the fact that in many studies on the effectiveness of social transfers, household chores – which are predominantly done by girls – were not included in the definition of child labour” (“Child Labour”).
Moving on, social transfer programs can also negatively impact child laborers if not designed properly. “However, social transfers can also produce unintended consequences on child labour. For example, a cash transfer scheme may provoke an increase in productive investments by beneficiary households, in turn creating new opportunities for children’s work within the family” (“Child Labour”). Although there are some limitations to social transfers, they are still the best economic solution when dealing with child labor in developing countries.