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Causes and Effects of Child Labor Essay

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Updated: Dec 3rd, 2019


As a rule, people start their professional careers when they are of full age. In this case, they can work full-time, while employers do not face any significant issues with workers of this group. At the same time, many people start working, either legally or not, when they are younger than 18 years old, which is known as child labor. It should be mentioned at once that there are two representations of this phenomenon in the modern world.

On the one hand, it refers to those underage citizens who have the possibilities and right to work under the law. On the other hand, numerous teenagers become involved in illegal labor activities because harsh external conditions force them. According to van Wormer and Link (2015), it is necessary to distinguish between the two variations above, and the second type of child labor is a severe problem both for developed and developing states. Thus, this phenomenon can have economic, personal, and social reasons, while its effects can be detrimental both for individuals and whole countries.

Causes of Child Labor

As has been stated previously, there are many reasons for this phenomenon to exist. Among them, economic matters are said to have the most crucial impact. It is generally accepted that child labor rates are higher in those areas where people are forced to live close to poverty. It can refer to both underdeveloped states and troubled regions of developed countries. J. Sarkar and D. Sarkar (2015) denote that there are secure connections between “child labor and income inequality” (139). As soon as people are forced to struggle in finding means of subsistence, it is not a surprise that many children start working to earn some money. Thus, economic conditions represent the most popular phenomenon that results in child labor.

Social reasons are said to be closely connected to economic ones, but they consider the issue from a different point of view. Even if a child lives in a family with a more or less satisfactory income level, they can become involved in child labor because many people around them do the same. It refers to the fact that the social environment influences individuals heavily. For example, if a child from a secured family appears among representatives of lower classes, there is an opportunity that this child will soon start speaking and acting like these people. In other words, the social reasons stand for the reverse side of the economic causes. When some teenagers do not have enough money, they start working early, and it becomes a destructive example for other children.

Then, a phenomenon of child labor exists and prospers because of personal or family reasons. On the one hand, a parent or parents can get seriously ill or even die, which makes underage people take care of themselves. In this case, finding work seems to be one of the essential steps to survive. On the other hand, many teenagers become involved in child labor because they want it without any apparent economic and social preconditions. However, once they start their early professional careers, it is difficult for them to escape. Even if the working conditions are severe, children cannot leave a job because they appear in a labor trap (Smith 2015). In this case, a single mistake negatively influences many lives.

Thus, the causes above are interconnected, and it makes the situation with child labor severer. As soon as they evoke one another, it is impossible to tell which group of reasons has influenced more children or which of them is more dangerous than others. However, there are no doubts that these causes cannot go unnoticed, and they imply substantial consequences for both underage workers and whole states.

Effects of Child Labor

As has been mentioned previously, child labor has numerous effects. Firstly, it refers to health issues that can arise from premature working activities. One should note that the phenomenon under consideration mainly denotes teenagers who are involved in hard labor rather than brainwork in comfortable conditions. Thus, when underage people regularly deal with exhaustible physical activities, it influences their organisms significantly (J. Sarkar and D. Sarkar 2015). As a result, these children witness heart, back, and other related issues.

Furthermore, their moral order will appropriately decrease against the background of health problems. What is more, unless the teenagers change their working activity, the given state of affairs will become only worse for them. As a result, adults will have to deal with consequences, even though the mistakes were made long ago.

The second effect is connected with education, in general, and school enrollment, in particular. It is said that there are “significant negative relations between all forms of child labor and school enrolment” (Putnick and Bornstein 2015, 117). It is proven that those children who are involved in labor activities have neither time nor effort to attend schools. In addition to that, even those unofficially employed teenagers who attend schools show poor results in comparison with those children who focus solely on education. Consequently, if children experience problems with schools, it will be difficult for them to continue their education further, which is necessary for their future successful careers. Thus, the situation is the same because people make severe mistakes while they are young, and these errors influence their further life.

In addition to that, the individual problems above are combined and create crucial issues for whole countries. On the one hand, when many children miss schools, it negatively influences the situation in a country. For example, this state of affairs can create a shortage of educated and skillful specialists in various spheres of economy, technology, scientific area, and others. On the other hand, the situation with aggravated health also has an impact on countries. In this case, a significant number of people with limited physical abilities cannot be advantageous, and when it refers to the youth, it evokes even more crucial issues. Thus, governments are interested in solving the case with child labor.


Child labor is an essential phenomenon in the modern world because many people under 18 years old start their labor activities prematurely. Even though the term also refers to those children who work under the law, a majority of teenagers are involved in labor illegally. It exists due to many reasons, with economic, social, and personal ones are among them. It is difficult to mention which of them has more impact, and the three introduce essential reasons. Furthermore, child labor can be dangerous for individuals because it worsens their health and prevents them from obtaining a decent education. Thus, states struggle from this phenomenon because a significant number of uneducated young people with poor health conditions will result in appropriate problems for a country.


Putnick, Diane L., and Marc H. Bornstein. 2015. “Is Child Labor a Barrier to School Enrollment in Low- and Middle-Income Parties?” International Journal of Educational Development 41: 112-120.

Sarkar, Jayanta, and Dipanwita Sarkar. 2015. “Why Does Child Labor Persist with Declining Poverty?” Economic Inquiry 54 (1): 139–158.

Smith, Stephen C. 2015. Ending Global Poverty: A Guide to What Works. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Van Wormer, Katherine S., and Rosemary J. Link. 2015. Social Welfare Policy for a Sustainable Future: The U.S. in Global Context. California: SAGE Publications.

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