Demographic And Socio-Economic Consequences Of Child Labour

Project and Seminar Material for Geography

Demographic And Socio-Economic Consequences Of Child Labour


Child labour participation is inimical, contrary to the Rights of the Child, and threatens holistic child development, the families, State and the nation at large. This study assesses the demographic and socio-economic consequences of child labour in Anambra State, Nigeria. The objectives were to examine the type of work engaged in by the children, determine the factors responsible for child labour practices, identify the condition of work, assess the demographic and socio-economic consequences of child labour and lastly ascertain the specific possible impact of child labour on future workforce in the state. A purposive sampling technique was used to select the sampled areas in the study area as well as the respondents.

A total of 400 children aged between 04-17 years, who are involved in laborious activities were administered a structured questionnaires to collect data. In addition, Focus Group Discussion (FGD) was also conducted to gather information from child labourers employers. The data wasanalysed using computer SPSS software 19 version. The results are presented using tables and chats.The results indicated that 53.0% of the child labourers are males, child labour participation is found to be higher among older children aged 11-17 years than those aged 4-10. More than half of child labourersare from large household size of 5-9 persons. Out of the entire child labourers, 42.5% are indigenes of Anambra State and 35.0% from Ebonyi State, while the remaining hails from the other surrounding States. Educational status of child labourers shows that 56.5% are in school, while 43.5% are out of school, public school children are the most affected as 77.0% are in public schools, with 66.0% in primary school levels. Out of the entire sampled respondent, 174 (43.5%) are out of school, out of which 95.4% dropped out from school, while 4.6% have never been to school before.

Poverty of parents accounted for the major reasons for child‟s school drop outs. About 73.5% of the child labourers work between 4-6 days a week. Most of the children (71.8%) spend more than 7 hours at work. On the working condition of the respondents, the study found that 50.0% of the child labourers work on temporal basis and the remaining work on either contract or permanent basis, 72.5% starts work at age between 4-10 years, the highest earned monthly income by the children is between ₦ 2001-₦ 2500, 64.5% eats twice daily.

The study found that 83.5% of the child labourers have encountered various types of dangers relating to the type of work they do. For instance as much as 42.5% have been physically assaulted, more worrisome is the fact that 44.0% and 20.0% have participated in social vices of such as alcohol drinking and drug abuse respectively, while 51.0% suffers from low self-esteem and 25.0% from alienation from friends/family/relation and as much as 87.0% have encountered health related challenges. The finding generally shows that household poverty which is caused by child‟s parent‟s low educational attainment and low occupational status accounted for the major reason why children joins labourious activities either to complement the family income or to pay school fees.

The study therefore concludes that for child labour incidence to be curbed there is the need to empower parents with education and soft loans to enhance their business since majority of the parents are involved in various types of businesses, this expected to go a long way in reducing household poverty in the state. There is also the need to introduce a free and compulsory primary and secondary education for children of school going ages in the state as it will help to motivate the children to concentrate in school rather than combining school attendance with work due to the need to complement the school fees, which results to, reduced attendance, grade repetitions and the subsequent school withdrawal.

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

According to the Child Right’s Act 2003, passed into law in the Federal Capital Territory Abuja, a child is a person who has not attained the age of eighteen years. On the other hand, labour according to Macmillan dictionary connotes the aggregate of all human physical and mental effort used in creation of goods and services. Put together, the concept of Child Labour has probably been in existence almost as long as the history of mankind and connotes all economic activities carried out by children regardless of their occupational status (Oloko, 1997). It includes both works that are permissible under the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) conventions and that which is not (International Labour Organization-International Programme for the Elimination of Child Labour) (ILO-IPEC, 2002). According to United Nation Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) (2007) Child labour is essentially understood as encompassing monetary or non-monetary activities which are mentally or physically, morally or socially hazardous for children below 15 years.

Across countries and societies, various forms of child labour exists these forms range from trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation, child domestic labour and illicit activities. Other forms include street hawking, waste pickers, company labourers, apprentices, babysitting, barrow pushers and commercial drivers/ conductors/ touts, water vendors, farm workers, house maids, gardeners, cleaners, and other artisans. Some of which are done on contract basis, whereas, some are considered as free services to guardians or relatives who in return pays back in cash or kind to the child or the child‟s parent all of which are hazardous to child overall development (Oloko, 1997).

Child labour is prevalent worldwide, occurring both in developing and developed countries (Scanlon, Prior, Lamarao, Lynch and Scanlon. 2002; Zierold, Garman and Anderson, 2004). Children are regarded as the most vulnerable in the society therefore their welfare in a society is an index of social and economic development of that society. Children contribution to the society in adulthood is determined to a large extent by their treatment in their childhood (Ray, 1998). Over the past two decades, the incidence of the use of children for labour outside the homes has been on the increase. To this end, the children-for-labour as a phenomenon has become an intrinsic component of survival for most families. As a result, there is an increase of poverty in many homes in the developing countries (PILER, 2004; Bass, 2004).

UNICEF (1997) argued that more than 650 million children live in poverty while 130 million children do not have access to education and that poverty is the main reason for children working outside their homes. In sub Saharan Africa, this situation has worsened, with most parts of the continent recording prevalence ranges from 20% to 54%. In sub-Sahara Africa, over 35.0% of the children are working and Nigeria has an estimated 15 million child labourers (Bass, 2004; Oloko, 2004). Several factors, such as poverty, low socio-economic status of parents, and cultural and religious factors coupled with the lack of enforcement of labour restrictions and inconsistencies in the anti-child labour legislation, have been identified as reasons for the upsurge and pervasiveness of the child labourers, especially in the developing countries. These factors, have thus, accounted for the high child employment rate of 90.0% of world‟s total for Africa and Asia (Bass, 2004; Oloko, 2004; Ruwanpura and Rai, 2004).

According to UNICEF (2008) an estimated 218 million children aged 5-17 are engaged in child labour, excluding child domestic labour all over the world. Some 126 million of these children are believed to be engaged in hazardous situation or condition such as working in mines, working with chemicals and pesticides in agriculture or working with dangerous machinery. The highest numbers of child labourers are in the Asia/Pacific region, where there are 122 million working children, whereas in Africa, the highest proportions of child labourers are in SubSaharan region, where more than 49 million are involved in work (Bass, 2004). In ILO report of 2004, child labour incidence was estimated at 218 which rose to 245 in her 2007 related research. However, from the 2004 report of 218 million, children aged, 5–10, are involved in child labour world-wide; wherein, 73 million of those working children are less than 10 years old; every year, 22,000 children die in work-related accidents; 8.4 million children are trapped in slavery, trafficking, debt bondage, prostitution, pornography, and other illicit activities; and 1.2 million of these children have been trafficked (ILO, 2005).

Psacharopoulos, (1997); Blunch and Verner, (2000); Bonner, (1993), argued that child labour income is a clear response to improving household living standards even if it is in a short run-on the other hand, child labour makes the household deeper below the poverty line by taking the child out of school (which is an important human capital accumulation) thereby making the child to contribute marginally in household income in long run as well as the society at large. For instance, In the area of education, the report issued by the nation‟s Ministry of Education (Olatunji, 2006; Adeoye, 2007) showed that out of 42.1 million Nigerian children eligible for primary education; only 22.3 million were in school. The remaining 19.8 million were out of school. The situation for secondary schools, where most adolescents fall into, was even worse.

Of 33.9 million of children eligible for secondary education, only 6.4 million were in school. That is not because parents are not desirous of sending their children to school, but because of a lack of economic power to actualize a wish for a better future of the children. Consequently, these children may work to meet the immediate and present needs of their poverty stricken families, but they are compromising not only their future, but the collective future of the nation and will also grow up to become a burden, rather than asset, to him/herself and or the nation, because the child will lack basic survival skills and knowledge that will benefit him/her and the nation, in the long run (Okpukpara, Chine, Uguru and Chukwuone, 2006; Ayoade, 2010).

However, the knowledge of the demographic and socio-economic implication of child labour in Anambra state is therefore particularly important because it is the major determinants of the future qualities of the work force and also the extent to which the sustainable development, Millennium Development Goals (MDGS) could be achieved. This research intends to examine the demographic and socio-economic consequences of child labour in the study area.

1.2 The Research Problem

In most African countries, a large proportion of households still live below the poverty line of less than $5 US Dollars per day, due to factors such as weak economic base, galloping inflationary measures, high rate of unemployment, the inadequate incomes of parents as well as ineffective machinery to enforce child welfare policies. The result is thataffected children in the rural areas find it difficult to survive as a result of economic status of their parent. These adverse socio- economic situation as highlighted above which are also compounded by the challenging political and cultural crises in many countries, as evidenced by civil wars, genocide, famine, drought, HIV/AIDS epidemic, and structural adjustment programs makes life in the rural areas unbearable for the children. Consequently, African children who are always at the receiving end are often placed in the margins of public arena through their joining both the wage and non-wage markets, some of these activities are sometimes hazardous to their health and education (Marcoux 1994 and Grier 2004).

At the household level, children‟s economic production has become an important aspect of economic survival strategies. Many children spend several hours working outside the home in order to bring additional income to the household. A significant proportion are involved in petty trading and services (as street hawkers, domestic servants, and in apprenticeship positions) or even working as street beggars in urban areas (Verlet 1994 and Amin 1994). Therefore, their involvement in these activities poses serious threats to the continue survival of the society; distort government policy with respect to education of the youth due to high dropout rate. It distorts acquisition of vocational skills and relevant education thereby destroying the economic sector (Okumadewa, 2001). Also physical stress due to the age and maturation of the child is affected leading to low concentration at school and breakdown of health of the child.

Additionally, much of what we know about the impacts of child labour is based on speculative evidence from estimates prepared by the International Labour Organization (ILO, 1991; 1996). Research on children in Nigeria tend to address child abuse in general terms with skeletal reference to child labour (see for instance: Okeahialam, 1984; Obikeze, 1984; Onwuzurike, 1986). Whereas, others Aderinto (2000); Olutayo (1994) and Oloko (1994) focus on street children who ran away from homes for various reasons and their survival mechanisms. While studies of this nature are informative, they preclude a household analysis that is explicitly developed for understanding the forms of child labour and its consequences. Anambra state is also not left-out as researchers have also carried out studies in the state with regards to child labour. For instance, Okoye and Tanyi (2010) investigated the perceptions of Nigerians on child labour. Using self-administered questionnaires, they sampled 360 respondents in Onitsha metropolis of Anambra State, Nigeria. The findings indicated that majority (70.6%) of the respondents perceive such chores like baby-sitting, fetching water, splitting firewood, sweeping, farming and cooking as child labour. Also, sex of the respondents was found to be the most important predictor of perception of chores that constitute child labour. The study went ahead to make some recommendations, one of which is the need to use various means to create public awareness of the danger of child labour.

Despite all these efforts, to the best of my knowledge, none of these have looked at child labour from the demographic and socio-economic implication point of view in Anambra state and in Nigeria as well, where a large number of children are found in urban/rural informal economy.

This research work hence attempts to remedy the knowledge gap in the literature by focusing on the demographic and socio-economic consequences of child labour with reference to Anambra state in Nigeria. More specifically, this research is aimed to address the following research questions:

  1. What type of work are the children engaged in?
  2. What are the factors that make these children work?
  3. What are the conditions under which the children work?
  4. What are the demographic and socio-economic consequences of child labour?

1.3 Aim and Objectives of Study

The aim of this study is to assess the demographic and socio-economic consequences of child labour in Anambra state. This will be achieved through the following specific objectives, to;

  1. Examine the type of work engaged in by the children
  2. Determination of factors responsible for child labour practices in the state.
  3. Identify the specific conditions under which the children work.
  4. Assess the demographic and socio-economic consequences of child labour in the state.
  5. Ascertain the specific possible impacts of child labour on the future workforce in the state.

1.5 Significance of the Study

Children constitute not only a formidable demographic force, but also make up the next generation of parents, workers and leaders. Their well-being, therefore, has ramifications not only for their own lives, but also for the lives of children they bring into the world, and for the societies they will build and maintain. Their ability to fill these roles effectively depends on the support of their families, communities and on the commitment of their governments to their development.

The prevalence of child labour is high in Anambra state as a cursory observation will reveal a gradual, but steady increase in child participation in economic activities and thisincidence has been on the increase in the past few decades. This is attributed to various reasons such as; high level of poverty, family expectations, institutional collapse, illiteracy, low economic costs, large family size to mention a few. This is regarded as detrimental to not only the child’s welfare and development, but also to the society at large (Okpukpara et al, 2006;Ayode, 2010). This research assesses the demographic trends and socio-economic consequences of child labour in Anambra state.
Thus, the data generated herein, would form a data base for consultation in subsequent similar studies. This study will also serve as important record and reference materials for planners, international organizations such as, UNICEF, ILO, government and non-governmental organizations in the state and Nigeria at large that may have interest in child labour or its related issues in the future. More so, from a policy standpoint, this study is important because, on the one hand, its findings will shade light on the much debated harmful effects of child labour on children‟s educational development, gender/age variations of the affected children, and on the other hand, its socio-economic consequences in the state general development.

1.6 Scope of the Study

Child Labour is an encompassing concept and cuts across countries and culture. Different researchers have explored it in different dimensions. This study were limited to the demographic, socio-economic consequences of child labour on the wealth-being and general developments of the state. The state is made up of 21 Local Government Areas. For the purpose of the study, 3 (three) LGAs was systematically selected out of the 21 LGAs, each of which was selected from the 3 senatorial districts of the state which in all formed the spatial units of the study. Questionnaires were designed and administered to the children between the ages of 4-17 in the selected areas of study. This study was carried out within a period of 8 months.

Chapter Five

Summary, Recommendation and Conclusion

5.1 Summary of Findings

Child labour is inevitable in Anambra state as in other states of the Federation. The result of the study shows that the prevalence is slightly higher among males children than their female counterparts.

Based on the state of origin of the respondents, the highest percentages of the children are indigenes of Anambra state, followed by those from Ebonyi state with, Enugu state, Imo state and Delta state indigenes in that order. The study also reveals that majority of the children who participate in paid jobs also attend school (working and schooling). In addition, more than half of the respondents who combine work with school are in public schools, followed by those who attend private schools and lastly those in missionary schools. On the working hours, majority of the entire respondents have specific working hours at which they are expected to start or close from work daily. Out of the entire respondents who have specific working hours, majority starts work as early as 6:00am and 7:00am, while majority close from work between 5:30pm and 7:30pm.

From the study, it was found that more than half of the children eat only twice in day and a very little percentage eat more than three times in a day. An analysis of the respondent‟s parent‟s socio-economic backgrounds shows that majority of the children‟s parents are still alive and most of them are married compared to those that are unmarried. The dominant educational attainment of most respondent‟s parents is secondary education and the least attainment is university degree and above and the dominant occupation engaged in by most parents is business activities and the least type of occupation engaged in by parents is civil service jobs.

From the regression analysis, the result shows that child‟s Sex, father‟s education level, mother‟s education level and father‟soccupationall have significant effects on the number of hours respondents spend at work. Whereas, age of child and mother‟s level of education both shows no significant relationship, but a negative relationship with the number of hours a child will spend at work, signifying that any decrease in the child‟s age and mother‟s level of education will mean a decrease in the number of hours spent at work by the child labourers. On the contrary, child labourer‟s present class and type of work engaged in shows no significant relationship with the number of hours spent by child labourers at work, but with positive coefficients.

5.2 Recommendations

From all that has been said and done based on the findings made in the study, it is clear that child labour practices have adverse consequences on the physical, social, educational and psychological welfare of the child, which constitute strong reasons for the bid to eradicate it. However, no effort should be spared to be taken to begin, sustain and accelerate the process of eradicating this act that does not only threaten the future parents, but also the future economy and leaders.

  1. It is well known that legislation alone cannot solve the problem of child labour as shown by the experience of other countries. Nevertheless, legislative action is important and should undergird all other strategies designed to eradicate child labour. Nigeria hassigned and ratified international conventions, which target the elimination of child labour. These conventions include United Nations Convention on the Right of the Child (UNCRC), International LabourOrganisation (ILO) Conventions138 and 182. These conventions need to be indigenised in national laws. This will help to safeguard the right/safety of the working child.
  2. A minimum age restrictions for children working in for instance in back-breaking jobs and in place where sharp objects such as welding works and chemicals such as plantation/mechanised farming are used should be set by authorities and compliance ensued. This will help to take care of early age at first work by the children, which help to minimise the impact of work on not only the child health, but also minimise the impacts on the child‟s education, emotional as well as other developmental aspects of the child.
  3. To reduce the risks of dangers from work on the working child, labour laws that is in conformity with international standards and harmonize child labour legislation and policies should be enacted and implemented by all employers in and around the state as this will help to ensure that working environment at the place of work is safe and conducive.
  4. Enact law that will totally prohibit work of children in all sectors of activity and in all types of enterprise or employment especially in those economic activities such as hawking on highways/traffic which endangers the child‟s life. This also helps to regulate the number of children who endanger their lives by selling on the highways that are in most instances prone to accidents of various sorts.

5.3 Conclusion

Obviously, parents need to know that child labour may in a short run benefit the families by assisting them in meeting some of their need, but on the long run, its effect is dreaded. This is because in most cases the child labourers completely miss out or under-accumulate the basic human capital (education) necessary to enhance their future productivity and earning capacity due to low school attendance and poor health status resulting from their participation in various economic activities. It is imperative that both government and non-governmental organisations be set up to critically assess, design and monitor programmes that will help to empower parents financially in order to make informed choice of sending their children to school rather than to work. Since majority of child labourers were from polygamous family, government should help enact a law that discourages large family practices and ensure a strict adherence by all to curtail the large family sizes which will go a long way to reduce the financial pressure often times mounted on parents which force them to send their children out to work so as to augment their family income

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