Chapter 8: Trade and child labor
Recent estimates suggest that as of 2008 there are more than 215 million children working worldwide (ILO, 2013). Child labor is undoubtedly a grave concern for developing countries and, indeed, the developed countries with which they trade. Children often work long hours under dangerous circumstances; slightly more than half of all working children perform work deemed hazardous and among the ‘worst forms of child labor’ (ILO, 2010). A child’s participation in the labor force, whether formal or informal, can reduce his or her educational attainment and accumulation of human capital, although the degree to which households substitute a child’s labor for schooling is unclear. Even if the impact of child labor on educational attainment were small, working children have fewer hours to allocate to studying, and achievement is often affected. Some evidence even suggests that working children have poorer health and development outcomes compared to non-working children. A promising trend is the decline in children between the ages of 5 and 14 involved in child labor. Male children above the age of 14, however, have not enjoyed the same decline in participation; further, boys are disproportionately involved in the most hazardous forms of child labor compared to girls (IPEC, 2012). In recent years developing countries have become increasingly involved in international trade.
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