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The state of child labor protections in 193 countries: Are countries living up to their international commitments?

Nicolas de Guzman Chorny (UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, Los Angeles, California, USA)
Amy Raub (UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, Los Angeles, California, USA)
Alison Earle (UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, Los Angeles, California, USA)
Jody Heymann (UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, Los Angeles, California, USA)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 3 September 2019

Issue publication date: 3 September 2019

1342

Abstract

Purpose

Nearly every country has committed to protect children from work that could be harmful or interfere with their education by ratifying the International Labour Organization Minimum Age Convention (C138). Yet there is little transparency and accountability around whether countries have followed through on these commitments by passing legislation to protect children from work. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper reports on analyses conducted of child labor legislation from all 193 United Nations member states to determine whether countries that have committed to ending child labor have taken the first step by passing legislation to protect children and youth from: work that is likely to be hazardous, work that is likely to interfere with their education and work that is harmful to their healthy development.

Findings

Findings show one in five ratifiers legally allow children to do hazardous work, and a similar number permit admission to employment at a young age. Moreover, legislative loopholes significantly undermine the protections that do exist in many countries.

Originality/value

Existing reporting mechanisms sometimes obscure whether central legal protections are in place, make cross-country comparisons difficult and impede the analysis of possible relationships between policies and outcomes across countries. This paper illustrates a novel approach to provide transparency and accountability on whether countries are meeting child labor commitments by using quantitative, globally comparable policy indicators.

Keywords

Citation

de Guzman Chorny, N., Raub, A., Earle, A. and Heymann, J. (2019), "The state of child labor protections in 193 countries: Are countries living up to their international commitments?", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 39 No. 7/8, pp. 609-626. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSSP-12-2018-0229

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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