Focus Point - Child LaborCommentary by Pete du Pont
April 13, 2000
I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis.
It's the classic liberal reaction: the United States should do good by attacking child labor in other countries, where child labor is often the difference between a family's eating and starving.
Combating child labor's largely directed at poor agrarian countries. But when children are forced out of jobs because of International pressure, farm families lose important resources, and everyone eats less food.
And for that matter, what's a child and what's labor? An International labor office study notes that, especially in developing countries, cultural and social factors determine the answer to those questions - especially in rural agricultural areas where children necessarily are introduced to work at an early age.
Moreover, within poor countries attacks on child labor are focused almost entirely on export industries. Thus could that have anything to do with rich countries trying to keep the products of poor countries out of their economies?
In many countries, banning child labor is counterproductive, because the main cause of child labor is poverty. What those countries need is a growing market economy that will allow kids to go to school instead of work.
Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont. Next time, turning off electric cars.