Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Let's talk about child labour

I would strongly agree with the premise that globalization brings about social change, such as poverty alleviation or women's rights. I can even accept the idea that an increase in wages will lead to more parents sending their children to schools. Bhagwati references peasants in Vietnam who were able to send their children to primary schools after rice was liberalized. Fair enough. I am not going to argue for a single minute that globalization leads to increased wages that can bring about such change. What I reject, and this isn't exactly what Bhagwati argues from what I can tell, is that government doesn't have the ability to step into the picture by enacting (and in India's case enforcing) laws that ban child labour completely. If the economy is liberalized, wages will rise for the parents regardless of whether the child is working or not. It is a very short term solution to a problem that most people recognize. After all, "in the long run, we're all dead."


  1. But governments do have the ability make (or enforce) laws that ban child labor completely.

    But the issue is, once child labor is banned

    a) will the family (even assuming modest annual wage increases for the parents/other legal working age members) be able to support itself without the wages their children were once bringing in?
    b) will the children enroll in, actually attend, and succeed in school?
    c) what incentive does the child have not to ignore the law and seek employment on the black market?

  2. Also, let's scale your argument up a bit and prohibit people from working before the age of 22. That should be enough time for them to get a college degree. After all if you look at our current great recession you'll see that high school grads have double the unemployment that college grads have. http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2010/11/05/131092274/3-ways-of-looking-at-unemployment#more