Edited by Keith Townsend and Adrian Wilkinson
Scott Lyon and Furio Rosati INTRODUCTION The most recent ILO global estimates underscore the scale of the remaining challenge posed by child labor. The ILO estimates that there were some 153 million children aged 5–14 years in child labor in 2008, accounting for almost 13 per cent of this age group. Children in hazardous forms of work threatening children’s health, safety or morals made up over one third of total child laborers. Child labor constitutes not only a serious rights violation but also an important barrier to national development. A growing body of evidence indicates that it is associated with negative health and educational consequences in childhood and later in life, exacting a heavy toll on the individuals concerned and on society as a whole. While there is no specific Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on child labor, progress towards a range of other MDGs will be much more difficult in the absence of success in combating child labor. Despite the importance of child labor to broader national development, and the large number of children in the labor force in many contexts, child labor has received relatively little attention in the employment relations literature. This owes in large part to the composition of children’s work. The overwhelming majority of child laborers work in informal settings, and in particular in rural, family-based agriculture, while very few children work for wages in the formal sector. Most working children, therefore, lie beyond the standard framework of reference of employment relations research. The concept...
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