Thursday, April 24, 2008

Child Labor

Besides saying that child labor is still practiced on a wide scale, I found this section of the article particularly salient:

[I]t is not inevitable that growth will drive child labour to the economic margins before rooting it out completely. As in the past, if associated with an unequal distribution of income [emphasis mine] and child-intensive production processes, economic growth can increase child labour rather than eliminate it.

And once in place, child labour can be difficult to uproot as child workers forgo schooling and apprenticeship and so grow up to be unproductive adults, who, in turn, cannot earn enough to support their children through education or training. It only takes one generation of child workers to trap an economy in such a low-productivity equilibrium.

Second, despite the spectre of avaricious parents, the children most at risk of early, hazardous, and even slave labour are those without adult kin. Where families have been broken up and denuded of prime-age adults by wars and epidemic disease, the prospects for preserving childhood look bleak.