The
Economics of Child Labor in Pakistan

 Fareedullah kakar

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 18-11003

University
Name: Forman Christian College

 

Submitted
to: Rabia Wasif

 

Date
of Submission: 21st July 2017

 

Abstract

 

            Children
are not born for work rather to study but the level of poverty they and their
parents are facing force them to work for household income stability. This
paper is a quantitative research paper so with the help of the primary source,
study examines the causes of child labor, benefits of child labor and
strategies to decrease the problem. Child labor is beneficial for the poor
families in household income stability and for getting basic needs. It is also
beneficial for the producers in increasing there profits. The economy of the
country can develop as these children make final goods and services. In the
developing countries like Pakistan ban on child labor is not in the interests
of the producers and the poor families.

Keywords: Child labor, Poverty,
Income stability, Beneficial, Economy.

 

 

Introduction

 

            Child
labor is defined by the international labor office (ILO) as any activity paid
or unpaid other than study of play, that is carried out by those who are under
the age of 15. Pakistan has a large number of children engaged in economic
activities and generating adequate income for their families. Children are
helping their parents in house-keeping by selling different products in the
streets or by doing hazardous work, while some work in formal and informal
sectors of the market. Child labor is a major problem all over the world
especially in the developing countries. Ban on all forms of child labor is
always in great interests of the children, but without work a child may become
malnourished, ideal source of instant income for household may completely stop,
decrease in production and profits of the producers and the economy can go
towards distortion. Other researchers have also worked on the issue of child
labor like Rana Ejaz Ali khan’s research paper “Socioeconomic Aspects of
Child Labor” which focuses on the socioeconomic difficulties children and
their parents are facing. Umer Khalid and Lubna Shahnaz’s research paper “Socioeconomic
Conditions of Child Laborers in Pakistan” which  focuses on the socioeconomic conditions of
poor children in Pakistan. Abdul Khaliq Malik, Niaz Ahmed Bhutto, Danish
Shaikh, Erum Akhter and Falahuddin Butt’s research paper “Another Real Fact
about Child Labor” which provides information about the facts of child
labor in Pakistan. A reporter’s article “12.5 million children in Pakistan
are involved in labor” published by dawn provides information on the
increasing rate of child labor in Pakistan. Shoeb Adnan’s article “5 Positive sides of child labor” which gives information about the benefits of child
labor for the poor families and the producers. And Michael P. Todaro has also
written a lot on this issue in his book “Economic development”. There
are many elements that can cause child labor and the most important elements
are included in this paper. So the main objective of the paper is to focus on
the benefits poor parents are getting by sending their children to work, the
wages children are getting, effects of ban on child labor, children facing difficulties
while working and some solutions for the issue. The scope of this paper is that
it will put a further light on the issue and allow people to balance it.

             The following are some research questions:

 – What are the causes of child labor ?

 – What are the benefits of child labor for
poor parents and producers?

–                   
What are the policy
recommendations for child labor issue?

–                   
 

Literature Review

 

            Child labor is a serious problem in
many parts of the world. In Asia a huge number of children are working in the
market in hazardous conditions as child laborers and are facing many
difficulties while working. 12.5 million children between the ages of 5 and 14
years are working as child laborers in Pakistan according to the Child Rights
Movement (CRM) National Secretariat. 
Under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), Pakistan has resolved to
take quick measures to eliminate all sorts of child labor and also finish the
worst forms of child labor. But still a large number of children are working
especially in the sectors like agriculture, production lines, little auto
workshops, shops,  cinemas, distributing
in the city, mining, hotels, weaving, packaging and construction etc.

            “Poor households
are more probably to use child labor and schooling reduction as strategies to
mitigate with socioeconomic shocks”( Malik, Bhutto, Shaikh, Akhter & Butt, Fact
About Child Labour, p 5).  Instead of
sending children to school for getting education, poor parents send their
children to work for income stability and to fight poverty. People who send
their children to work live below the poverty line. The main cause of child
labor is the low household income and poverty. 
People living below the poverty line have very low income to survive so
they sacrifice their child’s education. “High unemployment, unequal
distribution of resources and a high dependency ratio push children into
joining the labour force”(Khalid & Shahnaz, Socio Economic Conditions of
Child Labourers in Pakistan, p 85) . The increase of jobless people in
Pakistan is also the main cause of child labour. Corruption and a higher dependency ratio would generate financial pressure
between the working people and the dependents in Pakistan. The increase in population and fertility rate in Pakistan has also
increased child labor.

            In many
developing countries including Pakistan poor parents consider their children as
good source of income, but the rich society do not consider their children as a
source of income. They consider this an act of cruelty. In reality for the poor
people income from children can be very supportive. “In developing countries, family income always has been below
poverty level, and lifestyle has always remained worst and uncomfortable”(Adnan, Positive Sides Of Child Labour, p 1).  Families in developing countries having
income below the poverty line face many difficulties in maintaining their
lifestyles. Weak and ill elder members of the family cannot afford medication,
food and basic human needs. To solve this problem income from children can have
a huge impact on the family. ”
            Children
from poor families can pay their tuition fees by working during leisure time ” (Adnan, Positive Sides Of Child Labour, p 1). Some poor
parents send their children to work in their free time to pay for education.
Some times working for a short time do not hamper education. Some children are
very active and also do well in exams. Parents can use their children to run
and develop their business. Many children work with their parents first and
study later. With the help of children, poor families can expand their business
and produce more. ” Working children can help
to reduce labor shortage” (Adnan, Positive Sides
Of Child Labour, p 1). In Many developing countries labor shortage is a
huge problem. In Pakistan women are not allowed to work outside. So this
situation causes a severe labor shortage in the country. This problem can be
solved by letting children to work in the market. This will also benefit the
poor families. Child labor is very beneficial for many businessmen, because
children have special productive abilities. Like small fingers are important
for the production of many products like rugs and carpet weaving. So banning
child labor is definitely not in the interests of the producers.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

            There are mainly
four policy recommendations for the problem of child labor. The first one
recognizes child labor as a result of poverty and recommends to focus on
eliminating poverty first. The government should also focus on the per capita
income of the country.  The second
approach focuses to get more and more children into school. And also building
more schools for children. Conditional cash transfer incentives can help the
poor families to send their children to school. “This strategy has wide support
from many international agencies and development bodies”(Todaro & Smith, Economic
Development, p 371). Many non-governmental organizations and agencies are
providing aid and helping the poor families to send their children to school.
Many organizations are currently active in the rural parts of Pakistan like in
Baluchistan and Punjab. These organizations are 
making new schools and are also training the teachers to provide better
education in the rural areas. The third policy is to prevent child abuse and to
provide protection and support for the working children. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is working hard for
the protection of working children. It is always working for the best interest
of the child. It provides children better education and support services for
those who are working on the streets. The forth approach focuses on banning
child labor in its most abusive forms . All kinds of slavery like the sale and
trafficking of children, compulsory labor, debt bondage, child prostitution and
pornography and other kinds of illegal activities are harmful for the health
and morals of the children.

            In Pakistan working conditions for children are often terrible.
Many children work for nine or more than nine hours per day. Many children work
in hazardous conditions and face terrible situations, which is dangerous for
the health and well being of the children. The worst situations that children
face  are sexual exploitation,
trafficking, and debt bondage. Every year many children die as a result of
work-related accidents. The immediate ban on all kinds of child labor is in the
interests of every poor child, but without work a child may become
malnourished. With work a child can get education, basic nutrition, and all
sorts of basic needs. So ban on child labor is not a complete solution.   

 

Methodology

 

            The nature of this research paper is
quantitative. Questionnaires were distributed among the owners of different
goods producing firms in Quetta and Lahore. There were many children working in
these firms as child laborers. The content of the questionnaire was focused on
finding out owner’s opinion and knowledge about the issue of child labor. The
questions asked in the questionnaire directly address the research questions of
this paper.

 

Result
& Findings

 

            The results of the conducted
survey to investigate owner’s perceptions of child labor in Pakistan is
summarized. Closed-Ended questions were asked in the questionnaire. The survey
was conducted from 15 firm owners. 13 out of 15 firm owners agreed that child
is beneficial for the producers. 12 out of 15 owners agreed that child labor is
also beneficial for the poor families. 13 owners agreed that the issue of child
labor cannot be completely eliminated in Pakistan. 5 out of 15 firm owners were
against child labor.  13 out of 15 firm
owners thought that child labor is good for Pakistan’s economy.  9 firm owners agreed that working for
household income stability effects the education of the child.  All the firm owners agreed that the main
cause of child labor is poverty.  11 out
of 15 firm owners agreed that many non-governmental
organizations are working hard for the education of child laborers.  14 out of 15 firm owners thought that
children become worse off if they do not work. 
13 out of 15 children also agreed that the increasing rate of
unemployment is also the cause of child labor in Pakistan. All the firm owners
agreed that by letting children to work helps them decrease the level of
poverty. And 14 out of 15 firm owners agreed that ban on child labor is not a
complete solution.

 

 

Discussion

 

            All
questions of the questionnaire inquire owner’s about their opinion of the issue
of child labor.. The high rate of considering child labor beneficial by the
firm owners tells us that producers are getting more benefits from child labor
in reality. Because children have special productive abilities, like having
small hands for the production of rugs and carpets etc. Child labor is also
beneficial for the poor families. Therefore poor families send their children
to work for household income stability. The poverty and unemployment rate is
very high in Pakistan. So to fight against poverty children sacrifice their
education and go to work. Some firm owners were against child labor. Because
they thought that child labor is bad for the morals of the children and 10 firm
owners were in support of child labor, because they were getting benefits from
it. A high number of firm owners thought that child labor is good for
Pakistan’s economy, because children making final goods and services contribute
in the growth of the GDP of Pakistan. Which leads to the growth of the economy
of the country. Working for household income stability effects the education of
a child.  Many children sacrifice their
education for income stability but there are children who work first and carry
on with their studies afterwards. These kind of children are physically fit and
are very active. Many non-governmental organizations
and agencies are working hard for the education of child laborers. These
organizations are involved in getting more and more children into schools.
These organizations are also building schools for poor children. Children
become worse off if they do not work because not letting children to work can
increase their level of poverty and they might work in the most abusive
conditions. The increasing rate of unemployment is also the cause of child
labor in Pakistan. All the firm owners agreed that by letting children to work
helps them decrease the level of poverty they and their parents are facing. So
ban on child labor is not a complete solution.         

            The conducted survey tells us that
the owners of different firms were actually in the favor of child labor. Child
labor is an act of cruelty for the rich and developed countries like America
and the united kingdom but in the developing countries like Pakistan child
labor is good for the economy and good for the poor families and producers. Not
letting children to work or a ban on child labor can make them worse off. For a
developing country like Pakistan the government should provide safe and better
working conditions for the poor children and give them aid or conditional cash
transfers for their education. By doing this the poor children and their
families can maintain their household income and the economy of the country can
grow and develop. Most abusive forms of child labor in the country should be
eliminated like sale and trafficking of
children, compulsory labor, debt bondage, child prostitution. The government should focus on the issue of poverty first
to decrease the high rate of child labor in Pakistan and the government should
also provide jobs for the unemployed people of the country.

 

Conclusion

 

            Pakistan has a large number of
children are engaged in economic activities. These children help their parents
in maintaining household income. Child labor a major problem all over the world
and ban on child labor is in the interests of many. But not letting children to
work can make them and the producers worse off. The main cause of child labor
is poverty or people living below the poverty line. Unemployment and the
increase in population is also the cause of increasing rate of child labor in
Pakistan. There are many benefits of child labor for the economy, for the poor
families and the producers. To decrease the high rate of child labor in
Pakistan the government should focus on poverty. Children should be given
better working conditions and the most abusive forms of child labor should be
eliminated. Children should be given aid or conditional cash transfers for
their education and the non-governmental organizations are working in this
regard. With work children can get all the basic needs, producers can gain
profits. So ban on child labor is not a comprehensive solution for the country
Pakistan.

 

 References

 

Todaro,
M. P., & Smith, S. C. (2012). Economic development (11th
ed.). Boston: Pearson Addison Wesley. p 368-37. Retrieved on 15th
june 2017.web.

Adnan, S.
(2013, March 3rd ). 5 Positive sides of child labor. Extremology.

Khalid,
U., & Shahnaz, L. (2004). “Socio Economic Conditions of Child Labourers in
Pakistan”. The Lahore Journal of
Economics, 9(1), p 85-87.
Retrieved June 16, 2017.

Khan, R.
A. (2001). “Socioeconomic Aspects of Child Labour”. The Lahore Journal of Economics, 6(1), p 93-98. Retrieved June 15th , 2017.

Malik, A.
K., Bhutto, N. A., Shaikh, D., Akhter, E., & Butt, F. (2012). “Another Real
Fact about Child Labor”. FACT ABOUT CHILD
LABOR, p 3-7. Retrieved June 16, 2017.

Reporter,
A. (2016, June 13). 12.5 million children in Pakistan are involved in labour.
Dawn.