4 Combined Schooling and Child Labor as Child Activities: The Impact on Human Capital Formation
4.1 Introduction Child labor has received much attention from researchers and international institutions over recent decades, in an effort to sensitize public opinion to eliminate this economically and socially un-desirable childhood activity. However, children across the world, and particularly in developing countries, are currently engaged in a large number of activities classified as child labor. These activities range from fairly harmless activities such as helping out at home and working in the homes of others, to physically dangerous and morally objectionable tasks including soldiering and prostitution.75 In the middle of these extremes lies the bulk of what is generally termed economic activity. The ILO estimates that 306 million children worldwide between the ages of 5-17 were economically active in 2008,76 representing 19.3 percent, around one-fifth, of the world’s children. A comparison of the numbers of employed children broken-down by gender and age group is shown in the Table 4.1. Comparisons based on gender indicate that 21.4 percent of the world’s total population of boys, and 17 percent of girls are engaged in child employment. Child labor is economically and socially undesirable for many reasons. Among them, two are basic: first, working at an early age is a violation of fundamental human rights. Second, working rather than receiving an education at an early age, is a disinvestment in human capital formation that is likely to damage future income prospects.77 This chapter is designed to address the issue of child labor in a unique way, attempting to show how child labor...
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