Child labour wages and productivity: Results from demand-side surveys

A new study from the ILO sets out to explore the possibility that, in some contexts at least, employers may actually have an economic incentive to hire children rather than adults. Demand side research on child labour is relatively underdeveloped while policies for combating child labour operate almost exclusively on the supply side of the market. Policies are designed to send children to school, not to work. This is important too. But the results of this study indicate that many children may be being pulled into the workforce due to incentives faced by employers. Data on wages and productivity of children and adults in two occupations in four countries - Ghana, India, the Philippines and Uganda - were gathered between 2004 and 2005. The results indicated that where demand-side incentives were a substantial driver for child labour, there was a case for specific demand-side policy to address them. The study discusses three approaches - participatory regulation, informal sector support and technical assistance. The study showed that systematic research on children's wages and productivity is possible and concluded that further research on demand-side incentives is essential if policies aimed at eliminating child labour are to be effective and appropriate.