Friday, July 14, 2006

Understanding Child Labor, Patterns, Types, and Causes

The following is a summary of the article: Understanding Child Labor, Patterns, Types, and Causes
Via: eJournal USA

Summary:
UNDERSTANDING CHILD LABOR
by: Nasir Al-Amin
In the article Understanding Child Labor, Patterns, Types and Causes, by Eric Edmonds, child labor is viewed as a facet of poverty, in which emphasis is placed on addressing a family’s inability to secure their most basic needs. This financial constraint leads destitute parents to face the “difficult decision” to either engage their children in the informal labor market or to invest in their children’s future by sending them to school. The economic contribution of children is vital to poor families living standards and their ability to cope with extreme poverty. However, a family’s decision to engage their children in child labor is not exclusively driven by a family’s impoverished state.

Furthermore, during this decision-making process, parents must also asses the value of their child’s time against the opportunities afforded the child. Parents will not opt to forego their child’s economic contribution if the alternatives to child labor are not attractive enough. Another influential factor is a families ability to access credit. Households that are able to borrow against future earnings are able to allocate these funds to schooling expenses such as textbooks, uniforms and school supplies.

The later section of this article looks at polices aimed at eliminating child labor. Vital to effective policy is that it eliminates the need for child labor, rather than simply eliminating employment options for children. Interventions that have been effective are programs that pay children a stipend for attending school. Oportunidades, one such program operating in Mexico, has assisted five million families. Essential to Oportunidades effectiveness is its ability to mitigate the impoverished family’s need for their child’s financial contribution.

Child labor is pervasive and destructive to children’s health and development, as well as their ability to break the generational transmission of poverty. Thus efforts to address their plight must be grounded in a sound understanding of the various facets of child labor and seek to redress the poverty and environmental factors that cultivate child labor.

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