Thursday, July 19, 2007

Trade and Child Labor

Via Mark Thoma, I learn of a very clear summary at VoxEU of the evidence on the relationship between international trade and child labor in developing countries. It is written by my colleagues Eric Edmonds and Nina Pavcnik. They write:

Our recent research shows that children are less likely to work in countries with more international trade. The negative association between trade and child labour holds even when considering only poor countries’ trade with high-income countries. It also holds up for trade in unskilled-labour intensive products. Quite simply, child labour is less prevalent in countries that trade more because countries that trade more are richer, and children work less in richer countries.

Income effects seem to outweigh the substitution effects when prices rise due to international trade. Their conclusions are worth keeping in mind:
Where does this research leave the concerned consumer? Stories of children engaged in export industries should be met with concern about why children hold those jobs. Before one boycotts a product with child labour content or supports punitive trade sanctions, one should ask whether these measures will make the child better off. Will boycotts or sanctions eliminate the reasons why children work? Thus far, most of the existing evidence suggests that eliminating sources of income will not make poor families better off. It will not change the circumstances that cause children to work.

Read the whole article.


Anonymous said...

Seems like there should be some data on the introduction of child labor laws in the US that could be interesting to look at.

sadashivan said...

Eliminating child labor by target of 2015!!!! Is it possible?

Child labor is a consequence of poverty as hunger, homeless and others so is not as easy as we think. Even NGO’s and prominent individuals can not help eradication this issue until and unless they influence appropriate Governments to reevaluate the economic policies and rural economic growth. Till now rural economy is only known as agricultural economy and never emphasized on add-on value products. Governments have to consider growing and generating rural employment. Target set for 2015 to eradicate poverty may not be achieved until we understand roots and real causes of poverty.
90% of child laborers are rural children who migrate to cities and end up begging, prostitution, domestic helpers, or other odd jobs. It is easy to say “give them education and not work”, but the question is who will give? How many will benefit? Individuals and organizations have been helping these children for several decades. Have they achieved any result? Each day numbers and methods of child labor is growing.
Why child goes to work? This situation is most urgent to be taken care!!! Child goes to work only when parents allow. And why parents seek own child's support to sustain home economy? This is what in my opinion Governments need to understand and bring policies in accordance.

So my plea is, simply raiding factories with child labor does not solve as parents need their child to work to run home or child without parents to survive. In this circumstance child would enter new areas opened and are in boom such as; sex tourism, rag picking, pick pocketing, begging and more. Law and enforcement to control child labor is one way good discouraging factories, parents and child too, but is short term solution. Child labor, trafficking and prostitution are growing not only in India rather Eastern Europe, Africa, and other Asian countries day by day despite all efforts of governments and International bodies. Number involved in these activities may be much-much more than workers in factories, presently. Similar cases can see with rural poor women who end up in prostitution. Why this situation is arises? And why each day number of prostitutes growing in this world? And all these are in spite of all law and enforcements.

In books or written records the number of child labor may have reduced but physically, it is different, and areas of child labors have added like begging, domestic help, prostitution, pickpockets, street entertainment, which was never there 2-3 decades back.
I herewith enclosed the video clips and my sites to know more about relationship between poverty and child labor issue.
Not buying child labor made items is not the solution to wash out child labor from the world. You think by not buying child labor made items would save children from informal labor. Are you sure they are rehabilitated after they are unemployed? If so! How many? In many cases it is no!! Rather is an eye wash as they do not have resources to accommodate. This practice only lets child laborer enter in further dirty and odd jobs like sex tourism, street begging, street entertainers, rag pickers, thieves, and more open odd areas. So you should not be happy by saying that you have not bought what made by child labor.

Illegalizing child labor is an invitation to corruption in bureaucracy. Despite child labor laws, child labor numbers are on the increase. Arresting child labor in factories have opened many sectors for them to get involved specially in flesh trade, begging, street entertainment, pick pocketing and robbery etc. Law is effective as long as resources are open to children for education and for parents earn at least minimum to run a home. Law can only make this situation illegal but help is less towards reform to eliminate child labor.

Purpose of education fails when!!!
I have visited many rural villages in India and found intense poverty. My site explains the distressing facts:

sadashivan said...

What is child labour: Any child under the age specified by law worldwide works full time, mentally or physically to earn for own survival or adding to family income, that interrupts child’s social development and education is called “child labour”.
Any child under the age of 15 engaged in activity to feed family or self is “child labour”. ILO Convention 138 (C. 138) obligates countries to fix a minimum age for employment that should not be less than the age for completing compulsory schooling and, in any event, should not be less than 15 years. Developing countries may set the minimum age at 14. C-138 provides flexibility for countries to establish a younger minimum age of 12 or 13 for children to partake in “light work.”
Children’s participation in economic activity - that does not negatively affect their health and development or interfere with education, can be positive. Work that does not interfere with education (light work) is permitted from the age of 12 years under the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 138. So child engaged in part time work to learn practical skill linked to social or inherited custom or crafts is not child labor. It becomes “child labour” only when child weaves carpet in a factory or factory; earns money to support family without schooling, social development. On the other hand if child works for 3-4 hours to learn or earn for self or parents after schooling, would not be known as child labour as is additional education and practical skill that a child learns.

Definition of elements of worst forms of child labour- all types of slavery, forceful hiring of children, commercial and sexual exploitation of children, hard working condition.
With the change of world order future education system would be more practical than present system of theory from books and notebooks. Each child would be encouraged to involve in practical education that gives skill to survive in competitive world. So, defining “education” becomes important to define “child labour”. Thus any child works for pleasure, leisure, pocket money, helping parents, hobby, aspiration, non hazardous part time work is not “child labour”. “Child labour” purely accounts when child is forced to work under slavery, poverty, parentless or social or parent’s boycott.

Types of child labour- Self employed and employed with others are two categories of child labour:
• Self employed- street sellers, rag or scrap pickers, street entertainers, child prostitution or pornography (but mostly they are hired by notorious gangs), begging, and other odd jobs. These types of children are mainly street children and rural migrants. Most these children are parentless, abandoned by parents, riot or war misery. The situation changes; in poor countries they are helping hand to the parents.
• Employed with others- factory or mine workers, domestic servants, child prostitution or pornography. Conducting work in other’s premises or in other’s custody. Such children work with parents consent or are parentless. Some are sold or some work to help parents to meet livelihood.