Explaining the High Incidence of Child Labour in Sub-Saharan Africa

University of Bonn, Germany
African Development Review (Impact Factor: 0.4). 12/2002; 14(2). DOI: 10.1111/1467-8268.00054
Source: OAI

ABSTRACT There has been a growing interest on the issue of child labour among the academic and professional circles in recent times. Estimates show that the number of under–aged working children in Africa could reach some 100 million in the next 10–15 years, posing serious challenges to African policy–makers. Little is known about the likely causes for the rise in child labour in Africa. The lack of data has seriously undermined the amount and quality of research on the topic particularly in sub–Saharan Africa. The intent of the present study is to examine the link between children’s labour force participation and some macroeconomic variables using aggregated data from sub–Saharan Africa. The results show that the high incidence of child labour in sub–Saharan Africa could be explained, among other things, in terms of the high incidence of poverty, the predominance of a poorly developed agricultural sector, high fertility rates leading to high population growth, and low education participation. Contrary to some recent arguments, which questioned the direct link between poverty and child labour, the results of this study show that poverty is indeed one of the most important reasons for the high incidence of child labour in Africa. This complex problem calls for comprehensive and multi–faceted interventions including the adoption of poverty reduction strategies, introduction of labour–saving technologies for the agricultural production, an aggressive provision of primary education, and the mobilization of the communities for creating awareness.
Ces dernières années, la problématique du travail des enfants a suscié un intérÁt croissant dans les cercles académiques et professionnels. Selon les estimations, le nombre d’enfants mineurs qui travaillent en l’Afrique pourrait atteindre quelque 100 millions au cours des dix è quinze prochaines années, ce qui pose un défi majeur pour les décideurs politiques africains. On sait peu de choses sur les causes probables de l’incidence croissante du travail des enfants en Afrique. Le manque de données a un effet négatif tant sur la quantité que sur la qualité des recherches sur le sujet, en particulier en Afrique subsaharienne. La présente étude a pour objet d’examiner les liens entre la participation des enfants au marché du travail et plusieurs variables macroéconomiques en se basant sur des données agrégées provenant d’Afrique subsaharienne. Les résultats indiquent que la forte incidence du travail des enfants en Afrique subsaharienne découle notamment de la forte incidence de la pauvreté, la prédominance d’un secteur agricole peu développé, les taux de fertilitéélevés entraÑnant une forte croissance démographique, et les faibles taux de scolarisation. Contrairement è ce que laissent entendre des arguments avancés récemment, qui mettent en cause le lien direct entre la pauvreté et le travail des enfants, les résultats de cette étude montrent que la pauvreté est en effet l’une des causes majeures de la forte incidence du travail des enfants en Afrique. Ce problème complexe appelle des interventions globales et multiples, axées notamment sur l’adoption de stratégies de réduction de la pauvreté, l’introduction de technologies génératrices d’économie de main d’uvre pour la production agricole, un programme agressif de scolarisation au niveau primaire, et la mobilisation des communautés pour la sensibilisation.

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