Academic journal article Demographic Research

Health Consequences of Child Labour in Bangladesh

Academic journal article Demographic Research

Health Consequences of Child Labour in Bangladesh

Article excerpt

Abstract

BACKGROUND

The paper examines the effect of child labour on child health outcomes in Bangladesh, advancing the methodologies and the results of papers published in different journals.

OBJECTIVE

We examine the effect of child labour on child health outcomes.

METHODS

We used Bangladesh National Child Labour Survey data for 2002-2003 for our analysis.

RESULTS

The main finding of the paper suggests that child labour is positively and significantly associated with the probability of being injured or becoming ill. Intensity of injury or illness is significantly higher in construction and manufacturing sectors than in other sectors. Health disadvantages for different age groups are not essentially parallel.

CONCLUSIONS

The results obtained in this paper strengthen the need for stronger enforcement of laws that regulate child labour, especially given its adverse consequences on health. Although the paper focuses on Bangladesh, much of the evidence presented has implications that are relevant to policymakers in other developing countries.

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

1. Introduction

While increased attention is being paid to the school performance of child workers, the effects of work activities on their health have not received the same attention. Identifying the health effects of child labour is indispensable because children's health is directly related to their future economic prospects and to their welfare in their adult life.3 It is also important from a policy perspective to identify the hazardous types of child labour in which the majority of working children are engaged.4 Children working in hazardous jobs are subject to acute physical injuries and illnesses, and this figure is not insignificant. In 2000, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimated that 170 million of the total 350 million working children around the world were working in hazardous jobs that had adverse effects on their safety, health, and moral development (Huebler 2006). This dismal picture is remarkably significant in developing countries where children working under hazardous conditions account for up to 10 percent of all work-related injuries (Ashagrie 1997). To date, existing evidence on the health injuries to or illnesses among working children in developing countries is fairly limited and the results, are mixed, yet it supports the hypothesis that child labour is associated with poor health (Guarcello, Lyon, and Rosati 2004; Wolffand Maliki 2008). However, work-related injuries and fatalities to children are not confined to less-developed countries. For example, there is evidence that children working on farms in the United States often experience agricultural-related injuries (see Fassa 2003 for more details).

A number of studies also examine the effect of child labour on health using objective measures of children's health that are known to be determined early in an individual's life, such as weight-for-age (O'Donnell, Rosati, and Doorslaer 2005), height-for-age (Kana, Phoumin, and Seiichi 2010; O'Donnell, Rosati, and Doorslaer 2005), body-mass index (BMI)5 (Beegle, Dehejia, and Gatti 2009; Kana, Phoumin, and Seiichi 2010), and height growth (Beegle, Dehejia, and Gatti 2009; O'Donnell, Rosati, and Doorslaer 2005). All of these studies, however, find either little or no correlation between child labour and anthropometric indicators.

Empirical literature also presents some evidence of the positive impact of child labour on the living standards of families and, hence, on the health of the child (Smith 1999; Steckel 1995). This is consistent with the literature that suggest that a disproportionate share of total household income will be allocated to maintain the strength and health of the most productive members, whether the household is modelled as a single decision-making unit or as a collection of bargaining agents (Pitt, Rosenzweig, and Hassan 1990). …

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