Reach, Range, Reason
Global Development Network series
Edited by José María Fanelli and Lyn Squire
Chapter 6: Attending School, Reading, Writing and Child Work in Rural Ethiopia
Assefa Admassie and Arjun Singh Bedi International Labor Organization Convention 138 and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) are often used as benchmarks to provide a working definition of child labor. According to the CRC, the main criterion for deciding whether a particular activity should be considered ‘labor’ is the nature of the work. The convention states that children should be protected from hazardous work which interferes with their education, is harmful to their health and compromises their physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development. However, the idea that work should be considered labor if it is harmful for a child still does not provide a definition of ‘child labor’. Apart from the most egregious types of work which no doubt harm a child, there may be a wide range of activities carried out by children, especially in rural areas, which may not harm their overall development. Before labeling all types of work as child labor, it may be important to identify the potentially different effects of different kinds of work activities carried out by children. Furthermore, it is not just the incidence of work which needs to be considered, but also whether there is a threshold beyond which the number of hours of work provided by children begins to harm their development. In this chapter we use information on the work activities of children in rural Ethiopia to investigate these issues. We concentrate on the formal human capital development of children and whether the number...
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