The next section discusses background and contextual factors to set the stage for the rest of the chapter.
The section covers definitional issues as well as data quality and availability problems.
In this chapter and the report, we follow the ILO usage and use the term “child labor” to mean work that is hazardous to the emotional and physical development of children below a specified minimum age, as distinguished from “child work,” which is not automatically considered problematic.
This chapter offers a framework for assessing the progress toward the elimination of child labor, identifying the problems encountered, and suggesting effective means for accelerating progress.
As we discuss below, all estimates of child labor, including those of the ILO, are subject to potentially serious measurement errors and biases: this caution has to be kept in mind throughout this chapter.
Some limited amount of work by children during off-school hours may be desirable for their healthy growth into adulthood.
Even though parents understand the long-term deleterious consequences of interrupted schooling, they do not have savings or access to credit in order to smooth over temporary shocks to household income.
Opportunities to borrow, other than from friends and relatives, are limited in developing countries because they do not have functioning financial systems, either microcredit institutions or more traditional banks.
However, most of the children at work in the world are engaged in activities and for lengths of time in each day that are detrimental to their healthy physical and intellectual development, their education, and their productivity or earning capacity in adulthood.
Child labor not only harms the child, but also perpetuates poverty and compromises economic growth and equitable development.