Child Labor and Children’s Economic Contributions

  • Scott Lyon
  • Furio Camillo Rosati


This chapter provides a brief overview of child labor and children’s economic contributions. The ILO estimates that there were some 153 million children aged 5–14 years in child labor in 2008, accounting for almost 13 % of this age group, underscoring the scale of the remaining challenge posed by child labor. Children’s involvement in household chores in their own homes, not reflected in these global estimates, is also commonplace in most countries. A growing body of evidence indicates that child labor 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. Fewer child laborers attend school than non-child laborers in almost all countries where data are available. Moreover, evidence from learning achievement tests indicates that child labor interferes with academic performance when school and work overlap. Compromised education, in turn, leaves child laborers more vulnerable to low-paid, insecure work and joblessness later in the life cycle. Most child laborers are found in nonwage informal work, primarily within a family context. The largest share works in the agriculture sector where children’s economic contribution is often substantial. Progress in expanding the knowledge base on child labor has improved understanding of the complexity of the phenomenon. It cuts across policy boundaries – schooling, health care, labor market conditions, social protection, basic services, income distribution, social norms, cultural practices, inter alia, all can play a role – and therefore requires a comprehensive and integrated policy response.


Labor Market Child Labor Social Protection Labor Market Condition Compulsory Education 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UCW programRomeItaly
  2. 2.Faculty of EconomicsUniversity of Rome “Tor Vergata”RomeItaly

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