Causes of Child Labor

What Is the Connection of Child Labor in Relation to Poverty?

When considering child labor in relation to poverty, it is essential to understand that child labor is inexorably linked to the poverty that enslaves nearly half the world’s entire population.1

Child labor is connected to poverty in numerous ways, including the following:

Social Inequities – Poverty is often compounded by social inequities. For example, certain people may have land stolen or redistributed simply due to their ethnicity or social class. Certain jobs may not be available to certain groups, for various reasons. This increases poverty and destroys livelihoods. Parents may be tempted to farm out their children to bring in additional income to compensate for these losses.

War and Famine – Poverty often becomes prevalent in areas with war, conflict and famine. Other natural disasters also impact poverty levels, making child labor more attractive to stressed parents.

Illiteracy – People without the ability to read and do basic math are typically not qualified for higher paying jobs. Rather than seeing the need for their children to be in school so they can become literate, illiterate parents often turn to child labor to make up the difference in the family’s income. This continues the cycle of illiteracy and poverty.

Lack of Job Skills – People without training in a specific trade or skill set are ill-equipped to get a higher paying job.

Some low-income families see child labor as their chance to rise above their poverty. A single child working in cotton fields can contribute as much as a quarter of the family’s income.2 Asking a family to give up 25 percent of their income is a big ask. When the parents’ focus is on staying alive and feeding their children, child labor seems like a legitimate solution.

For families to reconsider the decision to put their children in child labor, their poverty needs to be dealt with through positive solutions. GFA World has been helping families find solutions since 1979. We serve communities and families through programs such as income-generating skills training, clean water wells, literacy classes and child sponsorship. Will you join us?

Learn more about causes of child labor

1 Maki, Reid. “10 Basic Facts about Child Labor Globally.” The Child Labor Coalition. Ju“11 Facts About Global Poverty.” Do Something. Accessed February 2019.
2 “Children & Cotton.” New Lanark Learning Zone. Accessed February 2019.