Child labor and economic growth

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Child labor and economic growth

InPresident Lula, who himself began to work at the age of eleven, declared fighting child labor a high priority. Inthe Brazilian constitution enshrined certain fundamental rights for children. In practice, however, these bodies are often criticized for undertaking inadequate efforts to improve the lives of children in Brazil.

Child labor in Brazil remains chiefly fueled by extreme poverty. When the adult members in the household do not generate sufficient income, children are usually expected to work.

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Brazilian children are often employed in places where they can work with their hands, such as in sugar, orange, coffee, or cocoa plantations. This is particularly the case for young children, especially girls, and children living in rural areas.

In addition to poverty, cultural habits in Brazil also play a significant role in child labor. In the impoverished northern areas of Brazil, most of the people who are parents today started working before they were eight years old.

The problem of child labor thus becomes trapped Child labor and economic growth a generational cycle. A third reason for parents to send children to work relates to the condition of Brazilian public schools.

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In sparsely populated rural areas, primary schools are located far away from each other, and secondary schools only exist in bigger cities. These schools are generally underequipped and in bad structural shape due to lack of funding.

Officially, education is compulsory for all children in Brazil aged 7 to 14, but the requirement is only loosely enforced. Ninety percent of children working in rural areas attend school for less than four years, and only one out of every eight children living in a favela goes to school.

The Brazilian Household Survey showed that almost 18 percent of boys between the ages of 7 and 16 hold at least a part-time job.

Nevertheless, school attendance is quite high; 93 percent of boys and 94 percent of girls between 7 and 16 attend school at least part-time. Whereas many studies reveal the negative effects of child labor on school attendance and learning, some studies found no relationship between work and education, and others showed that paid work actually enables some children to pay tuition, when they would otherwise be forced to drop out completely.

Marks Professor of International Studies and Economics at Cornell University, referred to field workers in India who argued that, in poor areas it is best policy to allow children to combine schooling with some work. It would be mistaken to assume that parents would ensure that their children attend school regularly if they expected harsh legal consequences for allowing them to carry a paid job.

Were the government outlaw child labor, parents would likely force their children to work in even less regulated and less visible jobs. Certain areas of work, such as jobs in private households, cannot be effectively regulated by the Brazilian state, and if children work in the home, it is nearly impossible to protect them from abuses.

Indeed, Professor Larry French of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University suggests that domestic work can be even more harmful for children than labor market jobs. Furthermore, domestic jobs are often not captured in child labor statistics.

In contrast to jobs in the labor market, which are usually structured and overseen by a single individual, housework includes different tasks which are often supervised by different family members throughout the day.

Furthermore, housework is often underpaid and is considered less valued than other types of work. The program goes beyond simply prohibiting child labor by also providing financial incentives to poor families that ensure that their children attend school regularly and receive vaccinations.

It is available for all families that have an income below the poverty line of reals per month. Families who otherwise would have to live in extreme poverty with an income less than seventy reals per monthnow can receive an additional flat sum of 68 reals per month.

Ninety-four percent of the funds go to the poorest 40 percent of the population. Numerous surveys highlight the success of the program, showing that most of the money is spent on food, school supplies, and clothes for the children.

Political paternalism and corruption are also big problems, especially in northern Brazil. He points out that there are several free employment opportunities in Brazil that remain vacant due to a lack of well-educated workers.

Former estimates showed that tens of thousands of jobs in Brazil were unclaimed due to a lack of qualified workers. Differing Opinions on Child Labor Views differ widely concerning the question how to evaluate child labor.

Additionally, holding a job sometimes helps children to attend school by providing money for school fees and other daily costs.

Child labor and economic growth

The discussion of whether children have a right to work is two-sided. As Liebel points out, since the late s there have been several small, informal mutual aid groups for children as well as initiatives among young people and adults in Latin America who urge children to claim their rights independently.

These movements do not oppose child labor, but rather want children to work without exploitation under fair and safe conditions. Most participants in these mutual aid groups are between the ages of 12 and 18 years old and are employed in the informal economy.

According to Liebel, these groups structure themselves so that children effectively have most of the power, allowing them to make decisions and have the final say. It is hard to tell yet which approach will become prevalent.

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