What Are the Causes and Effects of Child Labor?

The causes and effects of child labor vary by location and situation. However, there are some common denominators that are laced through nearly every situation.

The number one cause of child labor is poverty.1 Families who are always on the brink of starvation are forced to make decisions about their children’s futures that most of us would never dream of making. It is often a domino effect that starts with the struggle to survive. Even if the children are able to start school, parents choose to remove them because of the extra expenses. An idle pair of hands is then seen as a possible way to finally get a little ahead. And that’s when the child is sent to work or, worse, sold into work.

This begins a cycle that is extremely difficult to break. If the child doesn’t have a healthy childhood with school and socialization, they will likely remain illiterate and not have the opportunity to get a job that could lift them out of the poverty cycle. And so it goes for their children, too.

These are the lasting effects of child labor: illiteracy, improper socialization, depression, injury and possible labor bondage due to debt.2 Each of these contribute to the cycle of poverty that keeps children in labor situations despite worldwide advocacy.

The International Labor Organization estimates that 160 million children are in some form of labor around the world. The agricultural sector makes up a large percentage of that, with sub-Saharan Africa leading in total children in labor.3

There is hope for this travesty. Many organizations and governments are working to bring child labor to an end through advocacy and legislation. Grounds are being made.

GFA offers a timely solution that you can be a part of. For $35 a month, you can sponsor a child through GFA. Many children are waiting for someone like you to help rescue them from the clutches of poverty and child labor by giving monthly to help break the cycle of poverty for them and their family.

GFA missionaries provide community wide solutions such as clean water, nutritious food, tutoring assistance and medical care. All of these things relieve hard-working parents from having to make the decision to send their children to work. Keeping them in school is vital to breaking the cycle of poverty, and you can be part of the solution.

Learn more about effects of child labor

1 “Breaking the Relationship Between Child Labor, Poverty and Illiteracy.” Global Partnership for Education Secretariat. June 12, 2017. https://www.globalpartnership.org/blog/breaking-relationship-between-child-labor-poverty-and-illiteracy.
2 “Breaking the Relationship Between Child Labor, Poverty and Illiteracy.” Global Partnership for Education Secretariat. June 12, 2017. https://www.globalpartnership.org/blog/breaking-relationship-between-child-labor-poverty-and-illiteracy.
3 “Child Labour: Global estimates 2020.” International Labor Organization. Accesed February 25, 2022. https://www.ilo.org/ipec/ChildlabourstatisticsSIMPOC/WCMS_817699/lang–en/index.htm.
* Cover Photo by ILO Asia-Pacific. https://flickr.com/photos/iloasiapacific/8763370040/.