Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Hidden' child labor: New systematic documentation of the extent in Africa and Asia

Date:
September 20, 2011
Source:
Radboud University Nijmegen
Summary:
Child labor in developing countries is not only found in sweatshops, but also in the household, in family businesses, and on the farm. These forms of ‘hidden’ child labor have now been systematically documented by researchers in the Netherlands. They use data for sixteen African and Asian countries to show how many children are involved, how many hours they work and by which factors children’s engagement in hidden child labor is affected; all of which are important in combating this phenomenon.

Child labor in developing countries is not only found in sweatshops, but also in the household, in family businesses, and on the farm. These forms of 'hidden' child labor have now been systematically documented by researchers from Radboud University Nijmegen. They use data for sixteen African and Asian countries to show how many children are involved, how many hours they work and by which factors children's engagement in hidden child labor is affected; all of which are important in combating this phenomenon.

An article detailing their findings appeared online Sept. 15 in the journal World Development.

The International Labor Organization defines child labor as work that is detrimental to the health or development of the child. A child that spends less or no time on school work because it has to help in the household or family business is deemed to be carrying out child labor. According to the researchers from Nijmegen, hidden child labor of this kind is very widespread. They analyzed data obtained from 178,000 children and found that in the week before the interviews, 80 percent of them had worked at home. In that week, 30 percent of the African children and 11 percent of the Asian children had spent more than 15 hours working at home. Girls work more in hidden child labor than boys. This is because they do more household chores; an average of three hours a week more. Boys tend to work more in the family business than girls, but this difference is only one hour.

Parental education: striking effect

Anyone intending to tackle the problem of child labor must first understand why it occurs. Of the various factors involved, household characteristics are the most important. Poverty plays a large role, as does the education of the parents. If the mother is well-educated, the children will have to work less. However, the effect of the father's education is at first sight counterintuitive: children of well-educated fathers work more in the household and, in Africa, more in the family business too. This is probably because these fathers tend to work outside the home more, and more responsibility is passed on to the children.

Environment

The amount of work children are expected to undertake depends on how much there is to do: this is clear from the effects of the availability of electricity, tap water, land and livestock. Where there is land and livestock, children work more. If there is electricity, and/or tap water, they work less. Fetching water is a time-consuming business which is often left to children. The availability of electricity means that people can use a refrigerator and spend less time shopping, and manual labor (often carried out by children) can be replaced by machines. Furthermore, children in rural areas and districts with a poor educational infrastructure also tend to work more. If parents know that teaching is of low quality or if there are no schools within a reasonable distance from the home, they may prefer to let their children help at home.

Policy recommendations

The article comprises a number of recommendations for local policy-makers who want to reduce the incidence of child labor. The availability of good educational facilities, electricity and tap water reduce hidden child labor; it is therefore important to invest in these utilities. It also appears that children of well-educated mothers work less, making policy aimed at mothers important. Finally, children from large families tend to work more hours. Having many children could be a conscious choice, with children being seen as 'cheap labor'. But if it is caused by ignorance about family-planning or a shortage of contraceptives, targeted family-planning campaigns may lead to improvement.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Radboud University Nijmegen. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ellen Webbink, Jeroen Smits, Eelke de Jong. Hidden Child Labor: Determinants of Housework and Family Business Work of Children in 16 Developing Countries. World Development, 2011; DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2011.07.005

Cite This Page:

Radboud University Nijmegen. "'Hidden' child labor: New systematic documentation of the extent in Africa and Asia." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110919073848.htm>.
Radboud University Nijmegen. (2011, September 20). 'Hidden' child labor: New systematic documentation of the extent in Africa and Asia. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110919073848.htm
Radboud University Nijmegen. "'Hidden' child labor: New systematic documentation of the extent in Africa and Asia." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110919073848.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Science & Society News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

AFP (Sep. 20, 2014) Some 125 world leaders are expected to commit to action on climate change at a UN summit Tuesday called to inject momentum in struggling efforts to tackle global warming. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) Sierra Leone is locked down as aid workers and volunteers look for new cases of Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Cost of Ebola

The Cost of Ebola

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 18, 2014) As Sierra Leone prepares for a three-day "lockdown" in its latest bid to stem the spread of Ebola, Ciara Lee looks at the financial implications of fighting the largest ever outbreak of the disease. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Food Makers Surpass Calorie-Cutting Pledge

U.S. Food Makers Surpass Calorie-Cutting Pledge

Newsy (Sep. 18, 2014) Sixteen large food and beverage companies in the United States that committed to cut calories in their products far surpassed their target. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins