Essay on Child Labour in 21st Century

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Introduction

Recently, there has been growing interest in globalization and its influence towards child labour. Child labour has increased in the last decades due to globalization (Gunter & van der Hoeven, 2004) and more and more interest arises for the impact that globalization has on it.

A lot of studies and researchers have investigated the relationship between globalization and child labour, but there is a wide range of results. Researchers only investigated a specific part of globalization, for example, the social impact on globalization (Gunter & van der Hoeven, 2004; Fors, 2014). Other researchers focussed on the economic effects globalization has on child labour, and some researchers focus on the political effects.

This paper analyses the different dimensions of globalization to gain a comprehensive overview of the impact that globalization in total has on child labour. First, different terms are defined. Thereafter, the remainder of this paper is divided into three sections: the economic-, social- and political globalization and the impact of these dimensions on child labour.

Defining different dimensions of globalization

Globalization has different dimensions, and each dimension is linked to child labour in a different way. The three dimensions discussed in this paper are the economic -, social and political dimensions. To gain a comprehensive view of the relationship between globalization and child labour it is important to consider all these dimensions. A first step in discovering the relationship is to define the terms of the different factors of globalization and to gain a better insight into child labour.

According to Gunter & van der Hoeven (2004), ‘‘globalization is taken to mean the gradual integration of economies and societies driven by new technologies, new economic relationships and the national and international policies of a wide range of actors, including governments, international organizations, business, labour and civil society’’ (p.8). The three different dimensions of globalization arise out of this definition. According to Bottery (2003) is economic globalization best described as the convergence from three factors. The first factor is the increasing movement of capital around the world, whether national or international, due to information and technology. The second is the existence of very large institutions, third is the more and more influence transnational companies get (as cited in Rifai, 2013). The second dimension is the social globalization, ‘‘Social globalization is meant to capture the international spread of information, ideas, and people’’ (Dreher, 2006, as cited in Fors, 2014, p.126). The last dimension, political globalization, consist of ‘‘international financial institutions having increasing power over national economies and state decision making’’ (Rifai, 2013, p. 89). Before the globalization, states were dominant actors in the world. Nowadays, political leaders have less influence over people (Giddens, 1999, as cited in Rifai, 2013). This development above, together with the international and national legislation describe the political globalization.

In this paper, the relationship between globalization and child labour is analysed. Besides defining the globalization aspects, it is important to take a look at child labour. Child labour consists of exogenous factors, most significant are the decision-making in-home situations, the degree of poverty in the family, and the authority decisions (Labourda Castillo & Sotelsek Salem, 2016). The biggest part of child labourers works in the agricultural of the services sector, only 7% in the industrial sector (Fors, 2014). 14,5% of children aged 5 to 14 participated in work in 2008, calculated from a total of 176 million children worldwide. Almost 90% of the child labourers are located in Asia, the Pacific and sub-Saharan Africa (Diallo et al., 2010, as cited in Fors 2014).

Impact of economic globalization on child labour

There is a lot of inconsistency between researchers which influence economic globalization has on child labour; the impact of economic aspects is considered due to the influence of income levels, international trade, trade openness and FDI (Foreign Direct Investment). According to Labourda Castillo & Sotelsek Salem (2016), the urge for child labour is directly impacted due to the want of growing expansion. ‘‘A relationship exists between child labour and a country’s level of globalization when countries are considered by their income level, and that this relationship is positive for the group of medium-low income and low-income countries’’ (Labourda Castillo & Sotelsek Salem, 2016, p. 144). In conclusion, there is a relationship between income levels and child labour although this is different for low income (positive relationship) and high income (negative relationship) countries. Looking at the relationship between international trade and child labour, researchers are not corresponding to this relationship. According to Fors (2014), international trade and FDI don't play a significant role in child labour.

In contrast to this, Neumayer and De Soysa (2005) stated that trade openness and FDI reduces child labour (Labourda Castillo & Sotelsek Salem, 2016). Cigno et al. (2002, as cited in Labourda Castillo & Sotelsek Salem, 2016) claim that trade openness and international trade have no or just a slight reducing effect on child labour. In contrast to the previous, Edmonds and Pavcnik (2006) discover a negative relationship between trade and child labour. In accordance with Neumayer and de Soysa and Edmonds and Pavcnik, David and Voy (2009) find a negative relationship between FDI and trade with child labour (as cited in Labourda Castillo & Sotelsek Salem, 2016). Finally, child labour rates increase until a limit of globalization, from this point on child labour levels starts to decrease (Labourda Castillo & Sotelsek Salem, 2016).

There is a lot of discussion about the relationship between economic globalization and child labour, some researchers state that there is no, or just a slight effect, between economic globalization and child labour. Others found a negative relationship between the two.

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Impact of social globalization on child labour

The influence of social globalization on child labour is described by trends, education and child labour acceptance. According to Gunter & van der Hoeven (2004), there is a move in the past decades from informal home work to observable paid employment. Furthermore, child labour ensures direct earning that provide favourable effects to low-income families (Gunter & van der Hoeven, 2004). There is a significant negative relationship between social globalization and child labour (Fors, 2014), Fors state that ‘‘social globalization does have a real effect on the incidence of child labour that, in contrast to economic globalization, does not appear to be driven by income effects’’ (2014, p. 148). According to Fors (2014), social globalization enhances the potential for skilled labour, this increases the need for schooling and decreases child labour. Moreover, child labour acceptance has been influenced by social globalization.

Developing countries change from the view that child labour is acceptable to the view that it is less acceptable due to they must meet the international standards due to globalization (Lopez-Calva, 2001, as cited in Labourda Castillo & Sotelsek Salem, 2016). According to Fors (2014), further reducing child labour acceptance can be achieved through dispersing of international norms and therefore improve favour for schooling. Disperse of international norms is negatively related to child labour.

Impact of political globalization on child labour

Political globalization has to do with the type of political regime and the political actions towards countries where child labour takes place, about the impact of the latest are researchers incoherent. Child labour appears more in repressive political regimes where appropriate regulations are not implemented (Meffei et al. 2006, as cited in Labourda Castillo & Sotelsek Salem, 2016). Developing countries have adopted child labour laws due to pushing and concerns from industrialized countries who threatened to boycott products produces with child labour (Gunter & van der Hoeven, 2004).

In contrast to above-mentioned, Fors (2014) stated that boycotts and trading sanctions do not influence most child labourers, because just 7% of the child labourers work in the industry sector. The political actions are thus addressed to just a small part of the target group. In accordance with Fors, there are more researchers doubting the effectivity from political actions, such as boycotts and import bans (Maskus 1997; Basu and Zarghamee 2009; Doepke and Zilibotti 2009, 2010, as cited in Fors 2014). In conclusion, it is intended that political actions have a positive influence on child labour. As seen above, it is difficult to address the political actions towards the target group. ‘‘Improving political factors could improve globalization, but it has less of an impact on child labour rates’’ (Labourda Castillo & Sotelsek Salem, 2016, p. 145). ‘‘It therefore seems reasonable to suppose that without the assistance of decisive development policies aimed at reducing high rates of child labour, it will be very difficult for low-income countries to achieve higher levels of development and welfare from globalization because, far from decreasing, the child labour rate will continue to rise’’ (Labourda Castillo & Sotelsek Salem, 2016, p. 146).

According to different researchers, political globalization has a positive influence on child labour. Although a lot of researchers question the effectivity from political actions, improving these political factors improve globalization and thereafter it has a small influence on child labour.

Conclusion

The main purpose of this paper is to gain a comprehensive overview of the different aspects globalization has and the influence these different dimensions have on child labour.

The relationship between the economic aspect of globalization and child labour is ambiguous. Researchers agree about the fact that there is a relationship between globalization level and child labour when countries are considered by their income level (Labourda Castillo & Sotelsek Salem, 2016). About the relationship between international trade and FDI is much more discussion. Fors (2014) state that there is no significant relationship, in accordance with the previous, Cigno et al. (2002) suggest that there is no or just a slight reducing effect on child labour. In contrast, Neumayer and De Soysa (2005) state that there is a relationship between trade openness and FDI.

The relationship between social globalization and child labour is a significant negative one (Fors, 2014). This negative relationship has its root in the move from informal home work to observable paid employment (Gunter & van der Hoeven, 2004).

Between political globalization and child labour, there is a relationship between the more repressive political regimes and the level of child labour. (Meffei et al. 2006, as cited in Labourda Castillo & Sotelsek Salem, 2016). Due to the push of industrialized countries, child labour in developing countries have adopted child labour laws (Gunter & van der Hoeven, 2004). Despite the adopted child labour laws, there is a lot of scepticism about the laws. Fors (2004) stated that boycotts and trading sanctions do not influence most child labourers. The purpose of political actions is to have a positive effect on child labour, improving political factors could improve globalization (Labourda Castillo & Sotelsek Salem, 2016).

To sum up, child labour and globalization have a relationship in different dimensions. Researchers do not always agree about the significance and whether the relationship is positive or negative. Globalization is a wide-ranging term and it is not possible to generalize which dimensions has which effect on child labour.

Reference List

  1. Fors, H. C. (2014). Social globalization and child labor: a cross-country analysis. The Developing Economies, 52(2), 125–153. doi: 10.1111/deve.12041
  2. Gunter, B.G. & van der Hoeven, R. (2004). The social dimension of globalization: A review of the literature. International Labour Review, 143(1-2), 7-43. doi:10.1111/j.1564-913X.2004.tb00545.x
  3. Labourda Castillo, L., & Sotelsek Salem, D. (2016). Does globalization contribute to decreasing child labor rates? Revista de Economía Mundia, 44, 127–152. Retrieved from http://www.sem-wes.org/en/node/1391
  4. Rifai, I. (2013). Various dimensions of globalization and their implications for the leadership and management of education. Lingua Cultura, 7(2), 87. https://doi.org/10.21512/lc.v7i2.425
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