India Uncut

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Friday, July 15, 2005

No muffins for Grandma

Don Boudreaux of Cafe Hayek writes about child labour:
[I]f the alternative to working in a factory is working on a (probably subsistence) farm, two thoughts should spring immediately to mind: (1) in societies in which child labor is prevalent, children will labor somewhere, even if regulations and trade sanctions remove them from factories producing goods for export to rich countries – locking children out of factory work does not thereby send them home to watch tv, practice piano, read Roald Dahl, or help grandma bake muffins; (2) farm work isn’t necessarily safer or more pleasant than factory work – perhaps it is better in some dimensions (maybe even in most dimensions); my point is that farm labor shouldn’t be romanticized just because it’s done outdoors with furry or feathery critters (who kick, bite, defecate, and attract vermin and insects). If reliable data could be gathered, I'd bet that they'd show that farm labor in such countries is almost as dangerous and unpleasant as is the typical job performed by a child laborer in a factory.
Good point. And a similar one can be made about sweatshops. People who work in sweatshops do so because it is the best option available to them, and they'd have a worse job if the sweatshops weren't there. After all, they work there out of choice, nor coercion. Ditto with call centers and BPO units.
amit varma, 3:15 AM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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