Child Labor Is Going Out of Style

A blog about business and economics.
Sept. 23 2013 9:25 AM

Child Labor Is Going Out of Style

99301725
A boy shovels sand at the Sadat Ltd. Brick factory, where some children work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. dailyin Kabul, Afghanistan.

Photo by Majid Saeedi/Getty Images

Some excellent news today from the International Labor Organization's quadrennial report on child labor—the employment-to-population ratio for kids is down strongly around the world, and the share of kids engaged in hazardous work is falling at a nice rate as well.

It's a reminder that despite a bad four years for the U.S. economy and a terrible four years for the European economy, we are living through what are probably the best of times on a global basis. Living standards are improving in most developing countries, and you see that both in income statistics and also in broader social indicators like this one:

1379942742
Advertisement

Even better a decline in child labor should lay the groundwork for more good things in years to come. Child labor keeps kids out of school—its decline ought to mean a better-educated population and more economic growth in years to come. It will probably come as no surprise that child labor conditions are worst in the sub-Saharan Africa region, where 21.4 percent of kids are in child labor, but due to the Asia/Pacific region's much larger population, that's still the place where the largest raw quantity of child laborers is found.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

U.S. Begins Airstrikes Against ISIS in Syria

The U.S. Is So, So Far Behind Europe on Clean Energy

It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

How in the World Did Turkey Just Get 46 Hostages Back From ISIS?

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 22 2014 6:30 PM What Does It Mean to Be an American? Ted Cruz and Scott Brown think it’s about ideology. It’s really about culture.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 22 2014 5:38 PM Apple Won't Shut Down Beats Music After All (But Will Probably Rename It)
  Life
Outward
Sept. 22 2014 4:45 PM Why Can’t the Census Count Gay Couples Accurately?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 7:43 PM Emma Watson Threatened With Nude Photo Leak for Speaking Out About Women's Equality
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 9:17 PM Trent Reznor’s Gone Girl Soundtrack Sounds Like an Eerie, Innovative Success
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 6:27 PM Should We All Be Learning How to Type in Virtual Reality?
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 22 2014 4:34 PM Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.