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Child Labour: a survey of selected Asian countries


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  • Ranjan Ray


While the African continent has the highest child labour force participation rates, Asia contains the largest pool of child workers. The nature, magnitude and decline in child labour vary sharply between Asian countries. East Asia now has little child labour; however, child labour continues to have a significant presence in South Asia and in parts of Southeast Asia. This paper surveys the literature on child labour in selected Asian countries, paying special attention to its causes and consequences. The evidence presented shows that Asian child labour, especially in South and Southeast Asia, has some common features. For example, the bulk of child labour is in the 10-14 years age group. The phenomenon is largely rural, and child domestic labour constitutes a significant share. The participation rate of Asian children in the 15-17 years age group in economic activities, 48.4 per cent, is the highest in the world. There is a significant gender element in Asian child labour with boys outnumbering girls in economically active work, while the reverse is the case with domestic child labour. A focus of the survey is the empirical findings that provide insights into the policy instruments that may be needed in combating this phenomenon. The survey also discusses some of the important international and national initiatives that have been taken to reduce child labour. Copyright 2004 Asia Pacific School of Economics and Government, The Australian National University and Blackwell Publishing Asia Pty Ltd.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Asia Pacific School of Economics and Government, The Australian National University in its journal Asian-Pacific Economic Literature.

Volume (Year): 18 (2004)
Issue (Month): 2 (November)
Pages: 1-18

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Handle: RePEc:bla:apacel:v:18:y:2004:i:2:p:1-18

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Cited by:
  1. Salma Ahmed & Ranjan Ray, 2014. "Health consequences of child labour in Bangladesh," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 30(4), pages 111-150, January.
  2. Salma Ahmed, 2011. "Trade-off between Child Labour and Schooling in Bangladesh: Role of Parental Education," Development Research Unit Working Paper Series 21-11, Monash University, Department of Economics.


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