Table of contents
2.1 Definition: Child labour
2.2 Definition: Globalisation
2.3 Comparing developing and industrialised countries
2.3.1 Short facts about India and Germany
2.3.2 ILO’s convention no. 138
2.3.3 Perception of child labour in society
2.3.4 Laws and their execution
2.4.1 School attendance
2.5.1 Structural change and the state of economy
2.5.2 Digression to historical developments in Germany
2.5.3 Deriving historical insights to present changes
2.6.1 Value of the individual’s work force
2.6.2 Distribution of income
2.6.3 Poverty and workforce
2.7 Globalisations impact on child labour
This report tries to evaluate the question whether there is a linkage between globalisation and child labour in developing and industrialised countries. It takes India and Germany as examples and analyses their situation due to this issue.
Globalisation is a process enforced by companies. Therefore, child labour is defined by the ILO as the exploitation by companies. In this context it is not in its worst form of slavery, prostitution or as soldier in an armed conflict.
This report shows that society in India accepts child labour, whereas Germans prohibit it. Historically, Germany’s laws regarding child labour were initiated in the 19th century, a time of industrialisation. Laws protecting children in India were set in place approx. 100 years later.
The execution of laws is not provided in India as 14% are involved in child labour. Opposite to that, child labour in Germany is almost non-existing.
Education is an essential action demanded by the ILO. India introduced a law on compulsory school attendance in 1968. It demands children to go to school from age 6 to 14. Germany’s first moves in this matter where made in 1763. Today, children age 6 to 18 are obliged to go to school.
Here again, we need to take a look at the execution of these laws. India’s primary education is not attended by 23% of the children, while in Germany it is 16%. Drop-outs are a special matter. India’s primary education is not received by up to 15%. In Germany drop-outs nearly do not exist. India’s situation can be due to an under-facilitation of schools and teachers. In India one teacher teaches 35 pupils.
Economically, both countries differ as well. Germany is a service economy. But India is changing. The majority is occupied in the agricultural sector. But most of the GDP is generated by the service sector.
Historically, child labour in Germany took place in the 19th century during the industrialisation. There, we have seen that child labour occurred together with two factors, poverty and productivity. Industrialisation reduces the traditional fields of occupation and results in poverty. People are forced to let their children work. Machines make children as unskilled workers possible. Only if machines become more complex, educated workers are necessary. The more complex they get, the more productive they will be. Only then, children are not productive if not educated.
This event can be applied to India’s recent situation. It changes from an agricultural to a service economy. It skips industrialisation. Technology shoots India to another level, but leaves the under-educated population in poverty.
In globalisation, capital flows faster to the places best in use. Unsophisticated goods are produced where the price is lowest. Indians generate a GDP per capita of USD 2,700 per year. In Germany it is USD 34,200. On the other hand 80% of all Indians live on USD/day 2 or less. In Germany the welfare grants a minimum of USD/day 16. Capital flows to India as its labour is cheap. The people need the jobs to survive.
The process of globalisation cannot be directly blamed to result in child labour. But it enforces poverty. Child labour is a symptom of sincere poverty. Finally, we can say that there is a link between globalisation and child labour.
The question, whether there is a link between child labour and globalisation in developing and industrialised countries, cannot be answered simply with yes or no.
In this context we do not consider child labour as the worst form by enslaving, prostitute or recruit them as soldiers in an armed conflict. Globalisation means their exploitation by multi-national corporations as a resource for labour.
Historians and non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) claim that child labour is a result of poverty. Therefore, the question is whether poverty is a result of globalisation. Before confirming that, we must take a closer look at child labour with respect to its perception in developing and industrialised countries. Does a society accept child labour and to which extent? We must consider globalisation as a process. What is the status quo of a country and where does it come from? We must analyse the change of perception of child labour in time regarding structural changes in these countries and the movement of investments during this process. Only if we understand these coherences and can confirm them, we can connect child labour with globalisation.
Discussing child labour is a difficult task. On the one hand emotions are necessary to fight it. On the other hand facts and figures are necessary to see the real reasons for exploiting children. Therefore, the following text defines indicators, measures them with respect to India and Germany and finally interprets them.
2.1 Definition: Child labour
The International Labour Organization (ILO) defines child labour as “work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development”.
Further, the ILO specifies it as work that
- is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children; and
- interferes with their schooling by
- depriving them of the opportunity to attend school;
- obliging them to leave school prematurely; or
- requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.
This definition seems to demand a protection of children against endangered health, psyche and education. But it does not only demands children’s rights. It asks indirect for an obligation of children to get educated (ILO, 2004).