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Child labor, education, and children's rights


  • Betcherman, Gordon
  • Fares, Jean
  • Luinstra, Amy
  • Prouty, Robert


Child labor is widespread, and bad for development, both that of the individual child, and of the society and economy in which she, or he lives. If allowed to persist to the current extent,child labor will prevent the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals of halving poverty, and achieving Education for All. Nearly all of the world's governments have ratified international human rights conventions, which call for the elimination of child labor, and the provision of universal primary education. Fulfilling these commitments is of critical importance for development. This paper reviews the international legal framework relating to child labor, and access to education, and, provides a statistical portrait of child labor and education participation. It looks at why children work from the perspective of household decision-making. Various policy options are considered, including those which improve the incentives to education relative to labor, remove constraints to schooling, and increase education participation through legislation. Conclusions are drawn in the final section.

Suggested Citation

  • Betcherman, Gordon & Fares, Jean & Luinstra, Amy & Prouty, Robert, 2004. "Child labor, education, and children's rights," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 30161, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:hdnspu:30161

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    Cited by:

    1. Maconachie, Roy & Hilson, Gavin, 2016. "Re-Thinking the Child Labor “Problem” in Rural sub-Saharan Africa: The Case of Sierra Leone’s Half Shovels," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 136-147.


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