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200158 Business Society & Policy: Explores The Issue Of Child Labor

This assignment is a research report which required to choose one business company

The report research should be based on this question and need to develop own case study:

"Why is child labour used by some corporations, and how does this impact on the conditions of children’s lives and the society they live in?"

The process of research and develop own case study:

1 Review of literature for the theoretical perspectives of the topic to be researched.
2 Collection of information and textual data on the case you choose to study (drawing on primary and secondary sources).
3 Analysis and interpretation of this information and textual data.
4 Reflection on the relationships between the different perspectives discovered in the case.
5 Communication of your results of this research, in the written form of a research assignment.



Child labor is a global problem, especially in the developing countries (Jafarey and Lahiri 2012, p. 139). International Labor Organization (ILO) states that approximately 215 million children are working across the world today. Around 70% of these children are working in the agricultural sector and around 115 million are in the worst forms of child labor. Despite this, many companies claim that they adhere to the strict policies put in place about child labor. This report explores the issue of child labor by reviewing the theoretical literature available where we shall develop and critically analyze a case study, and also review the responses from the businesses, society and the government on the issue.

Issues from literature review

Opinions about child labor greatly depend on historical and cultural traditions, general social conditions, and the stages of economic development, however, there is a broad consensus on the unacceptability of the worst child labor forms (Galli 2011, p.60). Amnesty International conducted a report where they found out that there are a number of supplier companies, which are linked with the major technological and automotive companies, still profiting from child labor. Companies like Nestle which has assured their customers that their products use sustainable palm oil, usually turn a blind eye to the worker's exploitation in their supply companies (Grootaert and Kanbur 2015, p. 187). These companies can exercise they due diligence by investigating the sources of raw materials to determine whether they have been acquired ethically. These companies are supposed to care about

child labor by limiting child labor case in their supply chain.

One possibility why child labor is still a challenge is the constraints and preferences faced by the children or their parents do not figure out what happens to the children (Hilowitz 2017, p. 215). Another possibility is the fact that in most instances, the children’s parents are the ones that decide their children does. These parents act on their own or household’s best interest, regardless if it what is in the best interest of the child where they end up being exploited by the employers (Nielsen 2015, p.560). The literature on child labor suggests that once a child is in an exploitative labor, there are a variety of barriers preventing them to escape. These barriers might include; being removed from their parents’ households or losing emotional and financial support that could have been provided by their parents. Also, these children don’t attend schools which prevents them from acquiring the skills that are needed to earn decent wages when they are adults (Bequele & Boyden 2015, p.115). This might lead to sending their own children to work upon becoming parents themselves, forming some sort of a circle referred to as the “poverty trap” where generation after generation continues to miss schooling to work.

High incidence of child labor interferes with mechanisms of growth and economic prosperity. This is due to the fact that, a large population of educated people in an economy makes the work of the uneducated be more productive.  Therefore, when the level of child labor increases, it means that, education level drops (Cockburn 2014, p.70). The reason why child labor exists is due to the fact that labor is in high demand and adult workers are insufficient therefore using children as back up. Another reason is that of poverty where these children have to work to support their families with finances. Also due to globalization, many businesses outsource their workforce making it possible for the wage differentials to be exploited by these businesses (Winstanley and Leeson 2018, p. 211). This reduces production cost and maximizes profits making many businesses prefer to go for children workforce as they are the cheapest and the most subordinate form of labor.

In recent years, economists have been studying the causes and also the possible solutions to child labor. But the absence of proper analysis and research, and pressure groups in the developing countries is of great concern as it might force some policy measures which worsens the situation that faces the children and their families in those countries (Dessy & Pallage 2015, p.70). Also, child labor is a tough issue where the factors behind the labor predominate in several contexts. Therefore, to be able child labor, all the underlying causes must be well understood as an in-depth understanding of this situation should include the views of the children which will be important and will greatly help in trying to combat this vice.

Presentation of an original case

Sametta is a twelve-year-old girl from Cote d’Ivoire in West Africa who goes to work in her family’s cocoa bean field which is two miles away from their house. For 12 hours, she picks cocoa pods where she breaks them open to get the 30-50 seeds inside and also needs 400 seeds to make one pound of chocolate (Clark 2013, p.170). Sametta does not go to school as she is the breadwinner in her family. She uses sharp objects to harvest the cocoa pods, which puts her in great danger of hurting herself as well as the poisonous pesticides sprayed which puts her health at risk. Nestle company, the largest food producer in the world, is the one being linked to this cocoa harvesting by children in Cote d’Ivoire. Nestle is being sued by a local group where they are saying that the company aided and abetted violations of human rights by purchasing the cocoa (Grootaat & Kanbur 2015, p.187). Despite being aware of the child slavery problem in the region, they went ahead and provided technical and financial assistance to local farmers so as to get the cheapest product. The company wanted the case dismissed, but the court rejected the appeal where they said that the plaintiffs could update the case so as to meet a bigger hurdle than previous cases.   

The company themselves are tackling the child labor issue in their cocoa supply chain since the allegations through monitoring, remediation and pioneering schemes in ivory coast and Ghana forming part of the Nestle Cocoa Plan (Deb & Rosati 2018, p.503). They reported the progress they made in tackling the issue but they admitted that they are more to be done if child labor still exists. They also said that, ending child labor is a shared responsibility and that they are keen to take a collective action with everybody committed to tackling it. The government is also tackling the child labor issue through fixing a minimum age that one must be if they are to get employment. They are doing this so that they can prevent young children from working prematurely. If the government is to ensure that the minimum age is respected, they will make sure that school attendance is compulsory and that the minimum age for leaving school will be the same as the age of starting employment (Hillowitz 2017, p.215). They also make sure that young workers, who have attained the minimum age, are protected by ensuring that they are not involved in hazardous work

A critical review of the case

If Nestle Company really does care about ending child labor, they should investigate their supply chains continually seeking whether they are involved in the unethical issue. When the issue comes up, they should factor the information in their decision making as well as out of their way to seek it out (Jafare & Lahiri 2017, p. 141). So far, the company has shown real commitment in tackling the vice by starting an investigation in their supply chains. Therefore, they should do it continually without fearing the potential costs likely brought by the investigation process. They should use third party reports which can really help them in tackling the child labor issue as these reports force them to face the ethical issues that they are facing. However, these reports aren’t enough to spur change the needed change, therefore the need to commit to specific ethical actions publicly which will help them solve their unethical behavior with immediate effect. And as we had stated earlier, child labor is a global problem, hence the need for global attention (Anker 2010, p.260). However, substantial progress in reducing this problem has been made in many regions in the world. But there are stills challenges given that there are different support levels in ratifying states which complicate the implementation of international standards as the process of eliminating child labor is being slowed down.

Companies like Nestle should ensure effective social responsibility which will help them in improving compliance with the international labor standards on the issue of child labor. They should also follow the international legal framework against the problem of child labor as it will allow the development of the instruments of a soft law allowing them to regulate their corporate operations activities and also promote social responsibility (Admassie 2017, p.262). Also, the issue of minimum age should be adhered to by the companies and the world at large. Doing this places an obligation on the member states of developing and implementing a policy to fight child labor by establishing employment minimum age while considering the child’s well-being, in the national legislation. In my perspective, this legislation can work perfectly and reduce child labor if implemented well. My perspective was informed by the fact that the legislation all types of work; even domestic work or family and even the small-scale agricultural undertakings, like the one Sametta from our case was doing.

A variety of groups or organizations and social movements take action, like the one they took to sue Nestle when they believe that some children are being exploited for economic purposes. In both developing and industrialized societies, some these organizations focus on child labor issues or children exploitation while others are mandated with the issue child rights and child labor as part of their broader work (Winstanely &Leeson 2018, p.215). In both developing and industrial countries, businesses play an innovative role in identifying methods of reducing and eventually eliminating child labor incidences. Also, the larger companies like Nestle started taking action on the issue of child labor after they came under heavy criticism by NGOs or even journalists. When many businesses are under pressure, they feel the need to make a rapid response where they deny the allegations of having children work for them, without even checking whether its true or not (Woodhead 2011, p.35). Therefore, these businesses need to take some responsibility of their supplier’s labor practices and also recognize that dismissing these children is not an adequate response. If the allegations turn out to be true, these businesses need to know that there is something they can do to support these children in terms of their education and also changing their labor practices.


In this report, we have seen that there are many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that deal with the child labor problem exclusively. Globalization in the global economy is leading to demands of accountability, especially to the businesses that employ children. This literature has grown rapidly on empirical and theoretical fronts. The main question this report has answered is the reasons why children work and we have seen several arguments that have tried to test the resulting hypothesis. Also, it is clear from this discussion that child labor is a complicated issue that has no simple solution. And as we have seen, there are several factors that are identified as the prime causes of child labor. These factors include; poor quality of education, poverty, lack of credit opportunities, increasing inequality of income, and the rising degree of uncertainty that is facing most poor families (Kolk & Tulder 2012, p.265). This report has shown the need of certain policy measures that attack these factors above. These policies include; better credit opportunities, empowering the less privileged with basic economic, investing in quality education, cultural and social rights not forgetting some legal measures which include, banning of child labor, particularly the worst kind, and compulsory schooling.

For better child labor management, it is recommended that businesses should recognize that they comprise of decision makers who have a certain psychological mechanism that makes them avoid difficult issues. For this reason, clear and specific policy statements, combined with the willingness to correct when they are discovered by third parties, is the best antidote to deal with willful ignorance when it comes to supply chains. This could be to achieve if the corporations increase overall transparency through public revelations about all the processes and the effects of their operations.


 Admassie, A 2017, Explaining the high incidence of child labour in Sub–Saharan Africa, African development review, vol 14, no. 2, pp.251-275.

 Anker, R 2010, The economics of child labour: A framework for measurement, International Labour Review, vol, 139, no. 3, pp.257-280.

Bequele, A and Boyden, J 2015, Combating child labour, International Labour Organization.pp.112-123

Clark, A 2013, Child labour and schooling in the context of a subsistence rural economy: can they be compatible?, International Journal of Educational Development, vol 23, no. 2, pp.167-185.

Cockburn, J 2014, Child labour versus education: poverty constraints or income opportunities? Center for the Study of African Economies, Oxford University, pp.67-89

Deb, P and Rosati, F 2018 Determinants of child labour and school attendance: the role of household unobservables, pp 456-564

 Dessy, SE and Pallage, S 2015, A theory of the worst forms of child labour, The Economic Journal, vol. 115, no. 500, pp.68-87.

Galli, R 2011, The economic impact of child labour (Vol. 128), Geneva: International Institute for Labour Studies, pp 56-98

Grootaert, C and Kanbur R 2015, Child labour: an economic perspective, Int'l Lab. Rev., no. 134, p.187.

 Hilowitz, J 2017 Social labelling to combat child labour: Some considerations, Int'l Lab. Rev., no. 136, p.215.

Jafarey, S and Lahiri, S 2012, Will trade sanctions reduce child labour?: The role of credit markets, Journal of Development Economics, vol 68, no. 1, pp.137-156.

Kolk, A and Van Tulder R 2012 The effectiveness of self-regulation:: Corporate codes of conduct and child labour, European Management Journal, vol. 20, no. 3, pp.260-271.

Nielsen, ME 2015, The politics of corporate responsibility and child labour in the Bangladeshi garment industry, International Affairs, vol 81, no.3, pp.559-580.

Winstanley, D and Leeson, H 2018. Approaches to child labour in the supply chain. Business Ethics: A European Review, vol 11, no 3, pp.210-223.

Woodhead, M 2011, Combatting child labour: listen to what the children say, Childhood, vol 6, no. 1, pp.27-49.

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