More laws or more freedom

Scholars disagree on the best legal course forward to address child labour. Some suggest the need for laws that place a blanket ban on any work by children less than 18 years old. Others suggest the current international laws are enough, and the need for more engaging approach to achieve the ultimate goals.[72] Some scholars suggest any labour by children aged 18 year or less is wrong since this encourages illiteracy, inhumane work and lower investment in human capital. Child labour, claim these activists, also leads to poor labour standards for adults, depresses the wages of adults in developing countries as well as the developed countries, and dooms the third world economies to low-skill jobs only capable of producing poor quality cheap exports. More children that work in poor countries, the fewer and worse-paid are the jobs for adults in these countries. In other words, there are moral and economic reasons that justify a blanket ban on labour from children aged 18 years or less, everywhere in the world.[73][74] Other scholars suggest that these arguments are flawed, ignores history and more laws will do more harm than good. According to them, child labour is merely the symptom of a greater disease named poverty. If laws ban all lawful work that enables the poor to survive, informal economy, illicit operations and underground businesses will thrive. These will increase abuse of the children. In poor countries with very high incidence rates of child labour - such as Ethiopia, Chad, Niger and Nepal - schools are not available, and the few schools that exist offer poor quality education or are unaffordable. The alternatives for children who currently work, claim these studies, are worse: grinding subsistence farming, militia or prostitution. Child labour is not a choice, it is a necessity, the only option for survival. It is currently the least undesirabl of a set of very bad choices.[75][76] These scholars suggest, from their studies of economic and social data, that early 20th century child labour in Europe and the United States ended in large part as a result of economic development of formal regulated economy, technology development and general prosperity. Child labour laws and ILO conventions came later. Edmonds suggests, even in contemporary times, incidence of child labour in Vietnam has rapidly reduced following economic reforms and GDP growth. These scholars suggest economic engagement, emphasis on opening quality schools rather than more laws, and expanding economically relevant skill development opportunities in the third world. International legal actions, such as trade sanctions increase child labour.[72][77][78][79] "The Incredible Bread Machine" a book published by "World Research, Inc." in 1974: "Child labor was a particular target of early reformers. William Cooke Tatlor wrote at the time about these reformers who, witnissing children ar work in the factories, thought to themselves: 'How much more delightful would have been the gambol of the free limbs on the hillside; the sight of the green mead with its spangles of buttercups and daisies; the song of the bird and the humming bee...' But for many of these children the factory system meant quite literally the only chance for survival. Today we overlook the fact that death from starvation and exposure was a common fate before the Industrial Revolution, for the pre capitalist economy was barely able to support the population. Yes, children were working. Formerly they would have starved. It was only as goods were produced in greater abundance at lower cost that men could support their families without sending their children to work. It was not the reformer or the politician that ended the grim necessity for child labor; it was capitalism."

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