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An Analysis of the Causes and Consequences of Child Labour in the Philippines

The decision to allow a child to participate in the labour market can be formally analyzed in the context of decision making within the households. Given an income constraint, household size and the probability of child work will be directly related through the impact of reduced schooling investment that leads to lower educational participation of the child. External factors such as level of socio-economic development in the household, geographic location or the level of government expenditures on social services could affect decision making on allowing a child to work. The tolerance for child labour is circumscribed by the level of economic development of the society as well as the degree of deprivation of its members. The empirical tests conducted by the study confirm that child labour incidence may be expected to exhibit a countercyclical trend, that is, it is expected to increase when the economy is not doing well and vice versa. The paper also says that child labour incidence may be more responsive to sectoral fluctuations rather than to changes in GDP or GNP. Child labour incidence tends to increase as growth in the agriculture and industry sector declines. Unemployment among adults increases the likelihood that children will work, except in the case where the jobs arise out of self-employment, usually in the context of a household, where family labour is often employed and also where income is highly variable. Children have a higher probability of working than if they belonged to households where the head is jobless. Thus, while child labour is less likely to occur in relatively progressive provinces because families find no need for it, it is also less likely to be observed in very poor provinces, but here possibly on account of extremely limited economic opportunities. Action to be taken towards eliminating child labour should be collective. This action suggests two-pronged approach to dealing with child labour. The first involves a comprehensive set of policies and programs to promote economic growth, generate stable employment, and reduce poverty. The second involves well designed focused interventions that may be implemented to address separate forms of child labour. Lastly, concern about eliminating child labour should be tempered by an understanding of its nuances and its feasibilities in light of the social realities and constraints faced by families.


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