- Child labour and development shocks
- No country or region is immune from child labour, and none is shielded from the impacts of the development shocks and crises that have reverberated around the world in recent years, and indeed continue to do so. Such shocks include sharp economic or financial downturns, political and economic transition, natural disasters, armed conflict and the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
- Crises are often linked and countries can experience several of them Crises undermine simultaneously, compounding and deepening their impact (see box 3.1). A development crisis may vary in its impact depending on its type and intensity, but all crises
tend to worsen poverty, to increase the numbers of people in vulnerable situations, to weaken institutions, to drain government resources available for social expenditure and to have other serious negative economic, political, social
An example of a complex crisis: Tajikistan
Upon independence, Tajikistan was the poorest and least economically developed of the republics of the former USSR but it had a 98-per-cent literacy rate. The shocks that have paved the way for current child labour problems include:
- 1992-97: armed conflict leaves countless dead and many more displaced, and costs the Government US$7 billion;
- 1993: flooding, with destruction of crops and property;
- 1995: diphtheria epidemic;
- 1990-95: national economy shrinks by almost 70 per cent.
The picture today, with 41 per cent of the population under 15 years of age includes:
- family survival strategies that involve child labour, begging, migration, selling belongings and engaging in criminal activity, among others;
- a sharply declining agricultural sector;
- a crisis in nutrition – 81 per cent of household expenditure is on food;
- schools that are unheated, locked or turned into transit camps and have no teachers as a result of low or unpaid salaries;
- since 1997 the need for remedial education for returning refugees;
- widening gender gaps.
Source: UNDP: National Human Development Report: Tajikistan (1999), Chapter 4.
and psychological impacts. Crises expose and exploit existing fault lines in society, and create new ones. The harshest blow inevitably falls on low- income and resource-poor groups. Most children probably comprehend little of the forces at work around them, and are unable to do much, if anything, to counter the profound effects of these on their lives. These forces can make the difference between whether a child is safe or in danger, sick or healthy, goes hungry or is fed, lives with his or her family, strangers or alone, and whether he or she works or goes to school or does both. Therefore, the existence and impact of crises are important features of the dynamic global picture of child labour today.
Economic and financial crises
- The economic slowdown that was visible by mid-2001 and that deepened after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 on the United States will have significant social repercussions worldwide. Major workforce retrenchments in developed countries have already had ripple effects on suppliers and associated enterprises around the globe. World Bank predictions suggest economic slowdown in all regions, at least in the short term. Job losses and reduced investment will exacerbate poverty, which may in turn increase child labour, if effective policy responses are not put into place to mitigate the impact. Although the relationship between economic crisis and child labour is not fully understood, experience from the recent past provides some insights.
- The East Asian economic and financial crisis of 1997-98 illustrates the rapidity with which downturns can occur and the consequences they can have. Child welfare in the wake of the crisis appears to have declined primarily because of:
- decreased family income as formal sector employment diminished and adult workers took employment in the informal sector;
- declining real wages as the result of inflation, which had an impact on the price of food and health care;
- a decrease in government revenue, which reduced governments’ capacity to maintain social expenditures.
- Yet the impact of the crisis on children seems to have been less marked than might have been expected. In general, most children continued to attend school and to receive sufficient food and health care, largely because family resources were allocated to maintain an adequate level of support. Survival mechanisms developed by the many families in the informal economy may well have cushioned the effects of the crisis. In contrast, for those in the formal sector, income dropped sharply or was lost altogether.
- There were also differences across the region. The economy in Indonesia was hit the hardest, but the aggregate impact on child labour was limited. The importance attributed to education, social perceptions of child labour and the effectiveness of government schemes to counter poverty may have played an important role in maintaining school enrolment levels. The Government abolished school fees and instituted several initiatives to help poor students deal with the hidden costs of education. In 1997-98, the labour force participation of children aged 10-14 increased only 0.6 per cent, and decreased 0.7 per cent in the 15-19 age group; school attendance rates reflected this pattern. The main impact was in fact on those children already working, apparently leading to a shift from wage labour to more hazardous informal work, and a fall in earnings or loss of work for children.92 And while the impact of the crisis was blunted, the earlier downward trend in child labour has not been reestablished in the post-crisis period.
- By contrast, the Philippines was not hit as hard by the crisis, but child labour was definitely aggravated. School enrolment, especially at secondary level, declined. At the same time, youth unemployment soared. Both children and youth were thus more vulnerable to informal, illegal and hazardous economic activities.93
- In Thailand, the crisis had a limited negative impact on overall school enrolment, but youth unemployment rose. However, in rural areas school drop-out rates increased, possibly indicating a shift into child labour. The drop-out rate among the poor was almost double that of the non-poor during the 1998-99 school year.94
- Greater proportional losses by the poor in times of economic crisis have occurred in other regions as well. In severe recessions in Brazil and Chile, for example, poor children tended to be pulled out of school. But effects are not uniform across countries or socio-economic groups. As in Asia, household coping strategies appear to be heavily influenced by government policy, especially as regards social welfare and education – pointing to the particular importance of social protection for the poor to buffer the impacts of crises. Such experiences offer useful policy pointers for countries now in economic crisis, such as Argentina.95
Countries in transition
- Economic and social shocks can also occur in the context of more gradual but radical transition. Both deep political change and economic restructuring have been features of many countries over the past two decades. While transition countries96 have had mixed experiences, thus far it would seem that the losses for children as a result of the upheavals have far outweighed the gains. Chronic poverty is an emerging issue; the most vulnerable families have been those with children, especially single-parent families, and those from socially excluded groups. Transition has profound psychological impacts too: the dismantling of systems of state support, the loss of guaranteed employment for adults and a collapse in income and living standards have caused widespread feelings of shame, confusion and marginalization, leading to social problems such as substance abuse. In such conditions, many transition countries have seen the emergence of child labour on a previously unknown scale.     
- Child labour was not just ideologically unacceptable, it had no real place in centrally planned economies that operated by controlling labour mobility and by strictly regulating the job market, as well as personal freedoms. Officially, children could perform work only if it prepared them for future employment within the framework of education. To this day, Cuba states that child labour does not exist in that country. Nonetheless, even in pre-reform socialist countries, child labour existed to some extent.
- With the transformation to market economies, strong new pressures have emerged on children, especially among the poor, to contribute to family income or to provide for themselves. Countries of the former USSR and those in Central and Eastern Europe have all seen, to varying degrees, an increase in poverty, family disintegration, migration and population displacement, erosion of social safety nets, deterioration in health and education services and increases in delinquency and drug use among young people. At the same time, opportunities for children to participate in the largely unregulated labour market have rapidly multiplied, especially in the expanding informal (and often illegal) economy. The interplay of these factors has led to an upsurge in child labour in all its forms. With limited or no experience in dealing with child labour, government institutions are ill-equipped to devise effective responses.
- Mongolia embarked on drastic economic reforms that led to a steep rise in poverty and reduced government provision for children. Exacerbated by the decimation of livestock by a severe winter and disease in 2000, rural-urban migration has increased, including many children who now work in the informal sector as peddlers or shining shoes. Street children did not exist in any of the former socialist or pre-reform economies. Runaway children were quickly picked up by police and either returned to their families or placed in residential care. Now, as a result of poverty and migration, they can be found in urban areas in all transition countries, as elsewhere in the world. In various countries of Eastern Europe, Roma children are particularly disadvantaged. They are disproportionately involved in hazardous labour and at high risk of poor health, delinquency and poverty.
- Children’s involvement in agriculture has tended to increase in some transition countries. For example, in rural Viet Nam, the collapse of the collective sector combined with the introduction of a household contract system in agriculture has reinforced the need for the labour inputs of children on family farms. These may include children hired or transferred from other households, perhaps for payment only in kind. China has seen an increase in work by children on family farms, despite the enforcement of compulsory basic education laws.
- Continuation of residence permits, a relic of the old system, can be a powerful factor in exacerbating poverty and social exclusion by forcing mi-grants, and their children, either to avoid urban centres (where they might find work) or to live there illegally, thus preventing them gaining access to whatever formal social protection might still exist.
- Along with social protection systems, education has been a frequent casualty of transition, adding to the child labour problem. Schools have often been starved of public funds, with teachers widely affected by non-payment of wages. Increased costs of textbooks and clothes, together with the opportunity of school attendance by children who could otherwise be earning, are all part of an increasing burden on over-stretched family resources. In Kyrgyzstan, reduction of government educational allowances has led to a decrease in the number of public schools and overcrowded classrooms. With 55 per cent of the population living in poverty (23 per cent in extreme poverty), many children lose interest in secondary education and prefer to earn money, primarily in selling, transportation, collection or as ancillary workers.
- A final factor to highlight in the context of transition and child labour is the change in values and aspirations that can accompany societal transformation. In the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, increased consumerism and a desire for luxury goods has been attributed as a factor motivating adults and children alike to risk migration from rural homes to seek better incomeearning opportunities in the cities. This results both in a broken social fabric in the countryside and large groups of young people living at high risk in cities. Given the rapid growth in tourism in that country, it faces the danger of being perceived as a new alternative to the more traditional destinations for sex tourists.
The HIV/AIDS pandemic
- HIV/AIDS is emerging as a key factor affecting children and the pattern of child labour across the world. As a shock to development, it probably has no equal in modern times. Children everywhere are affected by the spread of the virus – directly by its impact on themselves and their family members, and indirectly by its influence on the wider social and economic environment in which they live. At the macro level, HIV/AIDS severely undermines economic growth and productivity; when this occurs in agriculture, there is the accompanying threat to food security. The age and gender composition of entire nations is drastically altered, putting a heavier burden of the dependent population (including children) on the dwindling, most productive age groups.
- While the ways in which the pandemic affects child labour are as yet under-researched, it is clear that this pandemic is having profound direct and indirect impacts. In turn, child labour fuels, in part, the spread of the disease – through the commercial and other sexual exploitation of children. The social inequalities that foster the spread of HIV/AIDS mirror in many ways those that perpetuate child labour.
- There are already an estimated 13 million AIDS orphans under the age of 15. This number is expected to increase dramatically in the years to come. Orphanhood as an outcome of HIV/AIDS exposes children to increased risks of discrimination, and ill health and lost opportunities for education and training. During the 1990s, AIDS orphans tended to remain in the care of the extended family. However, evidence from countries such as Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe shows these systems are breaking down under stress and that there is an increase in the number of child-headed households and further impoverishment of families where fostered orphans live, which also affects the other children living in those households.
- HIV/AIDS has a direct impact on children’s participation in the workforce. Prolonged periods of illness and eventual death in the family cause dramatic cuts in income and loss of assets. Even before one or both of their parents die of AIDS-related illnesses, children, especially girls, are likely to have to take on a heavier workload within the household, including domestic chores and caring for siblings and sick adults. This can compromise their schooling and their health. Both boys and girls may be obliged to seek income-earning opportunities to make up for the lost adult income and to help pay medical expenses. Children are also likely to be called upon to compensate for the loss of women’s labour in farming tasks. Increased migration as a consequence of HIV/AIDS, by both boys and girls, from rural settings to urban areas swells the ranks of children in the urban informal economy. The presence of children on the street and their need for money, food, shelter and companionship all increase their chances of being drawn into casual sexual relationships or into commercial sexual exploitation. This, in turn, increases the risk of their becoming infected with HIV and thus the circle from being affected to becoming infected is completed.
- It is reported that HIV/AIDS is driving a flow of ever-younger girls into commercial sexual exploitation, often because of long-standing myths about sexually transmitted diseases. Girls from the mountain areas of Viet Nam, for example, are said to be in demand in Cambodia because they are perceived to decrease the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases.
- HIV/AIDS impacts indirectly on child labour through education by affecting both pupil and teacher populations. Research from Zambia provides the most thorough assessment so far of the educational disadvantages of AIDS orphans, who are more likely to be out of school than children orphaned for other reasons. Even if children from households with one or more adults affected by HIV/AIDS are not withdrawn totally from school so that they may work, their classroom attendance may be sporadic. In Uganda, for example, breaks in school attendance have lasted from five weeks to a term and a half; the most common reasons are lack of money to pay school fees and the need for children to help at home with the care of HIV/AIDS patients.
- Schooling for all children is severely affected by the impact of the pandemic on teachers in countries with high infection rates. In 1998 in Zambia, for instance, deaths of teachers equalled two-thirds the number of graduates from teacher training colleges, and the ratio was increasing. Deaths from AIDS-related illnesses deprive schools of their most needed asset. However, teacher absences, because of their own or relatives’ illnesses associated with HIV/AIDS, also result in classroom disruptions and lower quality education, and potentially contribute to higher student drop-out and repetition rates. These translate into children’s reluctance to attend school and parents’ doubts about the usefulness of pursuing their children’s education, which increases the chance that they will become child labourers and reduces the future supply of skilled workers, including teachers.
- Alongside these various impacts of HIV/AIDS on child labour are the devastating emotional and psychological effects on children of seeing parents, friends, relatives and teachers succumb to the disease, and the fabric of their communities being torn apart. This cannot but lead to a heightened sense of vulnerability to exploitation and discrimination in its many forms, placing children at greater risk of child labour.
Natural disasters and child labour
- Crises also come in the form of natural disasters – both from the disaster itself and from the economic and other shocks that follow. Hurricanes, floods and earthquakes have devastating and immediate direct human and financial costs. They also bring in their wake far-reaching shocks to development, such as destruction of infrastructure, disruption of essential services, production losses (including food), plummeting income, unemployment, population movements, economic stagnation and price increases. It is no coincidence that natural disaster and poverty seem to go hand in hand. Repeated disasters lead to chronic poverty; funds and resources are almost permanently diverted to relief rather than invested in development. And poverty breeds conditions in which the effects of disaster can be most catastrophic.
- Both adults and children feel the effects of natural disasters, but the intimate social world of children is particularly affected by:
- death or injury of family members, or self-injury;
- heightened risk of ill health and disease in the post-disaster environment;
- homelessness, loss of personal belongings and loss of official identity or other papers;
- loss or damage of family assets and livelihoods (tools, workshops, land, crops, seeds, animals, cash savings, jobs), leading to food shortage, income collapse and possibly indebtedness;
- relocation to camps or elsewhere, loss of kin and neighbourhood networks (informal social protection);
- damage to infrastructure and disruption of services in education, health, energy, water supply, sewage and transport;
- looting and other security risks.
- Under such circumstances, the risks to children, including that of being drawn into child labour, seem clear. But research on what happens to children’s labour force participation during shock periods is rare. One of the few exceptions are studies undertaken after the 1998 floods in Dhaka, Bangladesh.114 The survival strategies of the poor in these circumstances tend to be to take out loans of various kinds and reduce food expenditure by buying cheaper food or less of it. No increase in child labour was found, but this may simply be due to the absence of any income-generating opportunities owing to a prolonged downturn in the urban informal economy. Children who worked before the disaster may find that their contribution to family income has become more important. Consequently, a casual commitment to income generation can become more long term. The nature of the work may change; it may become more hazardous. Children who performed what were acceptable light domestic chores before a disaster may subsequently find themselves involved in heavier work that takes more time and that may reduce their school attendance – if indeed the local school still exists.
Armed conflict and child labour
- As in the case of natural disasters, armed conflict is as much an effect as a cause of poverty and deprivation. Of the 25 countries at the bottom of the 1998 Human Development Index, more than half were suffering the direct or indirect effects of violent conflict.
- Beyond the obvious death, injury and trauma immediately caused by armed conflict, the long-term costs of war include destruction of physical infrastructure, loss of human capital, reduction of savings, capital flight, disruption of formal and informal economic activity and diversion of government expenditure from public services to military expenditure.  Once again, children are inevitably affected in dramatic ways, both during a conflict and in its aftermath – and this includes their becoming involved in child labour.
- This is not a new phenomenon. During the First and Second World Wars, child labour in industrialized countries increased. As women took over jobs vacated by men when they joined the armed forces, so children often took over jobs previously undertaken by women.
- Conflict in recent years has increasingly and disproportionately affected children. The United Nations and UNICEF estimate that between 1986 and 1996, armed conflicts killed 2 million children, left more than a million orphaned, injured 6 million and traumatized over 10 million. Another 13 million have been left homeless. War has separated an unknown number of children from their families and their communities, leaving them exposed to sexual and other forms of exploitation.
- In the course of civil strife the distinction between civilian and combatant becomes increasingly blurred, a phenomenon that affects children as well as adults. As we have seen already, some children are drawn into conflict as combatants and some become involved in support roles. Many more, however, are affected by armed conflict in other ways. Modern armed conflict usually involves some kind of civil strife and often takes the form of low-intensity, long-term conflict. As “normal” economic activity becomes unworkable in the conflict zone, new economies emerge as a means of survival for the general population and to fuel the war machine, and speculative and sometimes illicit activities in private hands (often militias) develop.
- Each of these economies can create new demands for child labour – and the supply is there, as war orphans and children separated from their parents and families find themselves with no option but to work in order to survive. Increased child labour in the informal economy is one of the results of warfare, and children are, as well, often victims of “blunt sanctions” imposed on governments or armed opposition groups. Thus, for example, child labour in Bosnia and Herzegovina, although not a major pre-war feature, has since been reported to have increased, especially among socially excluded groups such as the Roma who now work long hours in the informal economy. Five years after the conflict in Rwanda had ended, it was estimated that between 45,000 and 60,000 households were still headed by children who remained separated from parents or other adult kin. Ninety per cent of these households were headed by girls, who had no regular income and very little support from any source. Unlikely to attend school, these girls were particularly vulnerable to exploitation. In addition, traditional activities by children, such as collecting firewood or water or running errands, may become more risky during and following a conflict because of harassment from soldiers and the dangers of stepping on landmines, being caught up in fighting or being abducted.
Armed conflict also influences child labour through its effects on education. As the State loses effective control of territory, the terror tactics of insurgents can include targeting schools and teachers. In post-war Mozambique, only 25 per cent of eligible children in Manica Province were able to go to primary school as so many schools had been destroyed in wartime. Years of lost schooling take the equivalent time to replace, and hinder the recovery process. Displacement caused by war also disrupts family-based socialization and children’s acquisition of life skills, especially in agriculture and crafts. With neither family-based socialization nor formal education, children, whether child labourers or not, grow up ill-equipped to find decent work as youths and adults.
 AusAID:The impact of the Asia crisis on children: Issues for social safety nets, a report sponsored by the Australian Government for APEC, 1999, p. 101. See also E. Lee: The Asian financial crisis: The challenge for social policy (Geneva, ILO, 1998).
 ILO/UNDP: Employment challenges of the Indonesian economic crisis (Jakarta, ILO, 1998).
 L.A. Cameron: The impact of the Indonesian financial crisis on children: An analysis using the 100 villages data, Innocenti Working Paper No. 81 (Florence, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, 2000); and C. Manning: The economic crisis and child labour in Indonesia, op. cit.
 C. Manning: The economic crisis and child labour in Indonesia, op. cit.
 J.Y. Lim: The East Asian crisis and child labour in the Philippines, IPEC Working Paper (Geneva, ILO, 2000).
 World Bank: Thailand social monitor: Coping with the crisis in education and health (Washington, DC, World Bank, 1999).
 D. de Ferranti et al. Securing our future in a global economy (Washington, DC, World Bank, 2000), p. 85.
 The countries most usually described as being “in transition” are either changing from a centrally planned to a market-oriented economy, or from a politically restrictive to a more democratic regime; the two transitions are far from being mutually exclusive.
 V.N. Yagodkin: How child labour was eradicated in the USSR: Integrating school and society, population and labour policies programme, Working Paper No. 109 (Geneva, ILO, 1981).
 ILO: Review of annual report under the Declaration. Part II (Geneva, 2002), pp. 318-325.
 For example, even in pre- “doi-moi” Viet Nam, which had an excellent record in terms of educational provision, some children worked in the then limited spheres of the informal sector, the private sector and the household economy. See T. Le (ed.): Vietnam family: Responsibilities and resources in the changing of the country (Hanoi, Social Science Publishing House, 1995).
 Summary of the ICFTU-APRO Anti Child Labour Campaign Team Meeting, 24-26 July 2001 (Bangkok, ICFTU-APRO, 2001); and IPEC: Country report Mongolia: Trafficking-related issues (Ulaanbaatar, ILO, 2001).
 I. Epstein: “Child labour and basic education provision in China”, in International Journal of Educational Development (Oxford, Pergamon, 1993), Vol. 13, No. 3, pp. 227-238.
 IPEC: Child labour in Kyrgyzstan: An initial study (Bishkek, ILO, 2001), pp. 10-14.
 ILO: Country paper: Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Working Paper presented at the ILO-Japan Asian Regional Meeting on Trafficking of Children for Labour and Sexual Exploitation, Manila, 10-12 October 2001.
 Child labour as a consequence of HIV/AIDS was recognized in a resolution adopted by the International Labour Conference at its 88th Session (Geneva, June 2000).
 IPEC is currently carrying out research into the links between HIV/AIDS and child labour in South Africa, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
 J. Collins and B. Rau: AIDS in the context of development (Geneva, UNRISD/UNAIDS, 2000).
 The United Nations has defined AIDS orphans as children under the age of 15 who have lost their mothers or both their parents to HIV/AIDS.
 UNICEF: Listening to the children: Child workers in the shadow of AIDS in eastern and southern Africa (Nairobi, 2001).
 One myth is that younger girls can “disinfect” an HIV-positive person. IPEC: HIV/AIDS and child labour in sub-Saharan Africa, Project outline (Geneva, ILO, 2001).
 H. van de Glind and C. Coenjaerts: Combating trafficking in children for labour exploitation in the Mekong subregion: A proposed framework for ILO/IPEC action and proceedings of a Mekong subregional consultation (Bangkok, ILO, 1998).
 Michael Kelly: “The impact of HIV/AIDS on schooling in Zambia”, in Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) Bulletin (Lusaka, JCTR), 1999, No. 42.
 ActionAid Education Department: HIV/AIDS and the education sector: Impacts and responses, Briefing paper (London, 2000).
 For example, floods caused in large part by deforestation, which itself may be a consequence of rural poverty.
 See, for example, E. Delap: “Urban children’s work during and after the 1998 floods in Bangladesh”, in Development in practice (Oxford, Carfax Publishing), 2000, Vol. 10, No. 5, pp. 662-673; and S.F. Rashid: “The urban poor in Dhaka City”, op. cit.
 P. Collier: “On the economic consequences of civil war”, in Oxford Economic Papers (Oxford, Oxford University Press), 1999, Vol. 51, pp. 168-183.
 A report to the United Nations by Gra§a Machel in 1996 shed considerable light on the situation of children in armed conflict. United Nations: Promotion and protection off the rights off children, op.cit.
 I. Andrews and M. Hobbs: Economic effects off the World War upon women and children in Great Britain (New York, Oxford University Press, 1921).
 United Nations: Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council on the implementation of resolution 1261 (1999) on children and armed conflict, United Nations General Assembly, 55th Session, New York, 2000.
 ibid., p. 9.
 Bosnia and Herzegovina Ministry of Foreign Affairs: National report on follow-up to the World Summit for Children: Bosnia and Herzegovina (2000), p. 14.
 African Development Bank: African Development Report 2001 (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2001), p. 117.
 M. Chingono: “Mozambique: War, economic change and development in Manica Province, 198292”, in F. Stewart and V. Fitzgerald: War and underdevelopment. Vol. 2. Case studies, Queen Elizabeth House Series in Development Studies (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2001).