Child labor

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Child labor refers to the employment of children at regular and sustained labor. This practice is considered exploitative by many international organizations and is illegal in many countries. Child labor was utilized to varying extents through most of history, but entered public dispute with the advent of universal schooling, with changes in working conditions during the industrial revolution, and with the emergence of the concepts of workers' and children's rights.

In many developed countries, it is considered inappropriate or exploitative if a child below a certain age works (excluding household chores, in a family shop, or school-related work).[2] An employer is usually not permitted to hire a child below a certain minimum age. This minimum age depends on the country and the type of work involved. States ratifying the Minimum Age Convention adopted by the International Labor Organization in 1973, have adopted minimum ages varying from 14 to 16. Child labor laws in the United States set the minimum age to work in an establishment without restrictions and without parents' consent at age 16.[3]

The incidence of child labor in the world decreased from 25 to 10 percent between 1960 and 2003, according to the World Bank.[4]



During the Industrial Revolution, children as young as four were employed in production factories with dangerous, and often fatal, working conditions.[5] Based on this understanding of the use of children as laborers, it is now considered by wealthy countries to be a human rights violation, and is outlawed, while some poorer countries may allow or tolerate child labor. Child labor can also be defined as the full-time employment of children who are under a minimum legal age.

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