Child labor is employing people under age intending to exploit them to get a cheap labor force to maximize profits. Child labor is illegal and against children’s rights globally because it keeps children from attending school. The increasing gap between the rich and the poor is one of the main reasons child labor still happens in the contemporary world. It is essential to understand that child labor slows down economic development. When children who are supposed to go through schools and relevant trains to become future labor force are employed at an early age without any skill, then the economy might never realize its full potential. A country that allows child labor is most likely to experience low levels of GDP per capita (Chang, pg14). Therefore, child labor is a trait of poverty, and other factors beyond economic development might also contribute to child labor, as discussed below.
It is important to understand that child labor is mainly utilized in agriculture and other informal jobs because there is little or no skill and experience required. Over the years, child labor has been reduced because of the deliberate move by governments and international Non-Governmental organizations to condemn child labor. In addition to that, industrialization has also significantly reduced child labor because of technological advancements that cannot be handled by children (Mironescu, pg297). It is also important to understand the changes in the high skills required for employment and industrial composition drastically reduced child labor. This reduction in child labor is not celebrated by other employers because they have to pay more for the labor force.
The use of child labor was a sensitive issue since many families entirely depended on or depended on their children for cheap or free labor. In some cases, child labor was used to increase families’ income due to poverty and reduced standards of living. Therefore, in some communities, child labor is considered an integral part of their lives. For instance, when there are additional opportunities, children are forced to work by the parents of family members to earn that extra income for the family. For that reason, when there is economic hardship such as inflation, child labor is utilized to buffering the income shock resulting from the inflation (Chang, pg14). And so, it is true to say that child labor is part of household self-insurance strategies when social protection is weak.
The government ban child labor, and putting in place regulations to guide the same has made the labor market not a free market to safeguard the interest and rights of children who might be victims of child labor. Additionally, the government has to regulate child labor to grow the economy. When child labor is part of the economy, there will be lower wages for jobs children do, and the lower wage will create a cycle of poverty. Therefore, in any economy, it is important for human resources to be regulated by the government to avoid child labor or exploitation. However, apart from the issue of child labor markets need to be free. When the government determines what markets can or cannot do or which goods and services to be produced or sold then the government would be overstepping in its mandate (Chang, pg17). For that reason, people cannot do what they find most profitable, they lose the motivation to invest and innovate.
Chang, Ha-Joon. 23 things they don’t tell you about capitalism. Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 2012.
Mironescu, Doris. “Ha-Joon Chang-23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism.” Review of Economic and Business Studies 7 (2011): 297-302.