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Ignoring the benefits of children’s work

Work can have many benefits for children. Policy responses need to understand and foster those benefits, not succumb to biases that assume all work is bad.

Burkina Faso. Ollivier Girard/CIFOR/Flickr. CC (by-nc-nd)

In many parts of the world and in many cultures, children grow up by imitating, and gradually contributing to, the activities taking place around them, including work. Work is a normal part of life and children increasingly participate as they grow up to be responsible social people. There are numerous instances of children’s lives being disrupted and damaged by attempts to protect working children by prohibiting them from working, a good number of which have been discussed on this website. Many other children grow up deprived of benefits that appropriate work could have conveyed. Children all too frequently pay the price when people behind policy and intervention are so tied up with the perceived risks of children’s work that they ignore the benefits that work conveys. I shall consider why this happens, but first I shall briefly outline some of the key benefits of work for children and young people.1

Economic benefits

The most obvious benefit from work is economic. The importance of this benefit for those in extreme poverty or in severe crisis, when children’s work is necessary to provide for survival, is obvious to all. But it is precisely in such cases that work becomes excessive and often hazardous, and children’s agency becomes very constrained: harmful child labour becomes an indicator that something is wrong. Intervention is urgent to relieve the poverty and material needs that lie behind the work: indeed, the ILO has embarked on programmes of poverty relief,2 which is the only way likely to improve the situation for children.3

Apart from relieving severe poverty, children’s work can result in improvements to the quality of life for themselves and for their families.

However, it is not enough to focus on what is necessary for survival: everyone wants and deserves more than bare survival. Apart from relieving severe poverty, children’s work can result in improvements to the quality of life for themselves and for their families (sometimes even enabling schooling). Particularly in family development projects, children’s work can provide significant contributions. Programmes for sustainable development, through for example agricultural technology or micro-credit, have shown increases in children’s work. In such situations, children’s work becomes an indicator that the programme is effective and improving lives; but the work can become excessive and interfere with schooling. The question is how to allow children to retain the advantages of being involved in development projects without damaging their opportunities from school.

There are ways of doing this without prohibiting work. A project in Egypt engaged with business owners (often family members) to ensure they understood the needs of children (especially the need for schooling) and with the children, and successfully provided benefits which the children valued – including developing entrepreneurial skills.4 This allowed children both to participate in the development of their communities and at the same time develop their own skills.

Even in well-off communities, young people can benefit materially from income from work, help their families, and grow in autonomy and responsibility. But the obvious economic benefits of work should not distract us from other benefits: life is more than money.

Psycho-social benefits

I come to psycho-social benefits. When children successfully participate in the work activities around them, they take pride in what they do. Most of us have seen how work can foster self-esteem in children, especially in children who are otherwise marginalised;5 indeed, when there are tensions at home or school, work can provide respite.6 Those who see work as a normal part of life see deprivation of this opportunity to develop as a major risk. On the other hand, we have all come across or heard of cases in which children have been abused or humiliated in their work; and those who do not consider work as a normal part of childhood see such abuse as the major risk.

At least as important as a child’s individual psychological development is how work affects their social relationships. There is growing awareness that social relations are key to people’s well-being, in both short and long terms.7 In many societies, the work of children is central to their relations with those around them, enhancing cooperation and stable inter-dependence in families and close communities. But the importance of social relations is often lost in a focus on individual rights and development in Western societies, and indeed in Western education.8

A recent study indicates that in cultures where children are accepted as collaborative contributors to their household, this encourages pro-social behaviour in a spontaneous willingness to help.9 On the other hand, research has suggested that where intensive schooling has been prevalent for generations, children are likely to become segregated from mature activities and are less spontaneous in providing help.10

With a focus on individual development, elites easily overlook the risk that disrupting children’s work can seriously damage the social relations of children, and indeed the social fabric of society. We need to persuade people who have little idea of benign children’s work that preventing children from working on family tea or coffee plantations, or even from fulfilling expectations in part-time paid work, can be very damaging to family relations and children’s well-being in both short and long terms.

Educational benefits

Together with economic and psycho-social benefits, work can have value for learning. It can confer educational benefits on children.

Education outside formal institutions

First, we need to understand that education should not be identified with formal schooling. Education includes schooling as a major component in the modern world, but goes beyond schooling to be directed at the development of children’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential (see the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child [UNCRC], article 29). Far from being necessarily in competition with education, work can, and frequently does, contribute to education in this fullest sense. In particular, anthropological studies have shown how work is integral to learning the culture in which they are growing up and how to relate to people and the environment.11

Elites easily overlook the risk that disrupting children’s work can seriously damage the social relations of children, and indeed the social fabric of society.

But work can also provide specific skills and knowledge. Studies have shown street workers picking up mathematical skills necessary for their entrepreneurial enterprises.12 Others have pointed out how they pick up communication and other skills, which can help them progress into more remunerative kinds of work.13 We can take advantage of such learning to benefit the children and society. There have been many examples in poor urban areas of informal education that not only accommodates the needs of working children, but helps them to utilise their working experience. There is a programme based in Canada, for example, in which traditional and community skills acquired by children are formally acknowledged.14

Work and school cooperation

There are possibilities for work and school to come together. At the minimal level, schools can take into account the work of children by being flexible in their hours, allowing pupils to work before or after school or during appropriately timed school holidays. This has been documented in depth by the Young Lives study,15 but it has been noticed elsewhere that appropriate school hours improve the compatibility between work and school.16 It is possible to make the dates of school terms flexible to cater for the seasonal work of pupils.

There have long been ideas regarding how educational institutions can incorporate work experience into the learning of their pupils. In the 1980s, particularly in Southern Africa, programmes of ‘education with production’ brought productive work into the process of education both as training and to contribute to the costs of educational institutions, although these programmes declined in the face of inflexible bureaucracies.17

Less radically, such learning is incorporated into formal schooling in many industrial countries, partly in recognition that work experience can help in choice of a career and to develop skills for future employment. Rather than perceiving a linear transition from school to work, we see young people developing their future employment through a combination of work experience and school. A long-term panel study in St Paul’s, Minnesota, showed correlations between steady part-time jobs and subsequent achievements.18

Recently, the State of Ontario in Canada has drafted a policy document to introduce community-connected experiential learning for school pupils from kindergarten to grade 12.19 The opportunities involve full participation of the student in the activity to the extent that all parties should benefit from it: including both the pupils and those who provide the experience. Participation should be accompanied by reflection on what they learn and its application. So it involves co-operation between educators and those in the community supplying the experiences. Possibilities for such learning are many and varied; for our purposes, included are job-shadowing opportunities, short-term work experience, and longer-term placements for secondary school students. This suggests that children’s work might be encouraged and monitored by officials in education, rather than by those concerned with labour.

Work in family enterprises

According to the ILO, over two-thirds of child labourers in the five to 17 age range are unpaid workers in family enterprises; and 70% are in agriculture, largely on family farms.20 I have mentioned the work of children in developing family enterprises. Family enterprises of any kind provide opportunities for children to acquire a variety of social and work skills in a protected environment. It is especially in such circumstances that children can become collaborative contributors, establishing sound social relations and developing social responsibility.

To destroy this system in favour of school and white-collar jobs is likely in real economic environments to leave many without either jobs or skills, and could threaten future food supplies.21 This is not only a concern for children in poor communities. When, in 2011, the U.S. Department of Labor proposed restrictions on child labour in agriculture, there were many protests from young people on farms demanding to be allowed to learn to farm through their participation in farm work.22

There is, however, a downside to this kind of work. Some research suggests that unpaid family work persistently correlates with poor school enrolment, more so than work outside the home.23 We therefore need to find ways in which family work can be encouraged without interrupting schooling. Besides, children are occasionally abused within families: some monitoring is needed.

The bias against work

There is much research to be done on how to maximise the benefits of work – on the conditions that are favourable to the different benefits. But that work can and frequently does convey benefits is well established. In much of the discourse against child labour, however, these benefits are ignored. Why?

Psychologists inform us of a number of factors that limit our ability to make decisions rationally on the basis of evidence and argument. Such reasoning is too slow and inefficient for much of our daily lives. Most of the time, we rely on intuitive thinking, which is fast and usually efficient: past experience, values, culture, the people around us, various mental associations – all these provide short cuts for quick decisions, which usually work well. But intuitive thinking is prone to error; from time to time, we need slower, reflective thinking that takes account of all the available evidence. This is the point that “behavioural economists” make in their critique of classical economic theory. The latter assumes – wrongly – that people normally act ‘rationally’ and in accordance with an accurate evaluation of their circumstances.24 The insights from this literature can tell us a lot about why international child protection agencies so often get it wrong when it comes to children’s work.

Research on psychological biases can tell us a lot about why international child protection agencies so often get it wrong when it comes to children’s work.

One of the important biases that humans experience is the instinctive aversion to risk or harm, with associations of loss or harm producing direct responses in the brain. Psychologists have shown that risk-aversion acts as a strong motivating force, with people often avoiding economically rational options when these are presented as involving a risk of loss.25 This relates to children’s work and the policy response to it because children’s work is so often depicted as harmful or in terms of the “loss of childhood”. Even though these depictions are sensationalist and frequently inaccurate, they nevertheless sway public and political opinion, with the consequence that many are blinded to the potential and actual benefits of children’s work.26

Related to risk aversion, thinking on child protection is commonly associated with harm and vulnerability to it. A consequence is that policy makers focus restrictively on how to protect children from specific risks, rather than on children’s developing lives perceived holistically, and ignoring the autonomous agency that they deploy in improving their own circumstances.
Another common psychological bias is to conserve what we have. It appears that part of our evolutionary survival mechanism is not only to accept what we have, but to develop a preference for what we are used to.27 This preference applies to material things and also to knowledge. We therefore spend considerable energy fitting new data into our system of understanding, rather than allowing our beliefs or frameworks to be challenged and reshaped. We look for arguments that support the conclusion which fits our current perspective,28 paying more attention to views that confirm our point of view and more readily criticising those that oppose it. This manifests in the pressure and inclination for people within child protection institutions to accept the perspectives and doctrines of the institutions in which they work. The consequence is that many seek information that reinforces what they already believe and reject alternatives that challenge and de-legitimise their understandings.29

Mongolia. ILO/Flickr. CC (by-nc-nd)

Further, our perspectives are influenced by our own experiences, and those of the people we know and spend time with.30 Yet these differ. Many people throughout the world grow up in cultures where children’s work is a normal part of family life. However, people influential in policy and intervention have on the whole come from reasonably well-off families, where children’s contributions were minimal. They also received great benefit from intensive schooling, which provided them with knowledge and qualifications for secure and desirable employment. Their bias, however, lies in assuming that their experience is universal. A large number of policy elites intuitively and un-reflexively see benefits in school rather than in work, with school achievement becoming a matter of status and children’s work signifying low status.31

Academic disciplines that immerse researchers in the lives of the children they study can help to overcome the limits of personal experience. But this immersion is not readily available to those who work with quantitative data, like economists. This is why economists and anthropologists so often differ in their interpretations of children’s work. Anthropologists are aware of the variety of children’s lives across and within communities, and see the different ways in which they can be affected by work; economists, by contrast, are constrained by what numbers are available, and can easily miss individual needs within the larger patterns that their numbers produce. Economists are frequently swayed by correlations between work and poor school outcomes and between school and subsequent incomes, while anthropologists demand careful controls for extraneous variables (such as poverty or children’s aptitude for school) and criticise the validity of the instruments that economists use. Unfortunately, anthropological data are barely valued within major institutions, where there is a heavy and sometimes mistaken bias for arguments using big numbers.32

The way forward

Biases can be overcome by evidence; but this is rarely a straightforward procedure. We are unlikely to achieve widespread change in thinking simply by engaging in adversarial debate and presenting data that we find convincing. We have got to find ways of conversing with and convincing the people whom we wish to change, producing data that they might find persuasive; in short, we have to work to change their biases.

Those of us academics who wish to protect the developmental opportunities of work for children have two tasks: first, to devise research that can show this developmental benefit in a way that is convincing to people who do not expect it; second, to discover and unfold the conditions under which work is a positive developmental force – the kinds of work and work conditions that help development, the hours of work appropriate for children at different ages, the kind of adult guidance that enhances development through work, appropriate relations with employers and peers, its relationship to the school curriculum, and so on.

Immersing researchers in the lives of the children they study can help to overcome the limits of bias, but this immersion is not readily available to economists.

I believe we would serve working children best if we focus on the developmental benefits of work, which are often clear to the young people themselves. The matter then becomes an issue of education and development, to be supported and monitored by organisations and ministries with appropriate interests and skills, rather than by ministries of labour, whose interest and skills lie elsewhere. Such a focus would have major implications for policies on children’s work, which becomes something to be encouraged with appropriate support rather than something to be abolished.

We can take this further by presenting ways in which work serves children’s rights rather than violating them. Apart from the right to work articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948, article 23,1), we can argue in favour of appropriate work from the UNCRC. Article 27 (1) recognises “the right of every child to a standard of living adequate for the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development”. Article 29(1) states that education should be directed to the “development of the child’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential”; work can contribute to this.

Article 30 states that children (in ethnic minorities) have a right to enjoy their own culture, and many cultures include children’s work. Article 32(1) states that children should be protected from work that interferes with this development; but by implication when work promotes development and the standard of living needed for it, such work should be encouraged as a fulfilment of their rights – and policies that push children out of benign formal employment into more exploitative work violate the right to protection from exploitation.

When we recognise the developmental as well as material benefits that work can and does confer to children, we can divert misguided attention away from abolishing labour, to focus instead on the urgent task of removing harm from children’s work where it exists and ensuring that children truly benefit from the work they do.

This Policy Brief is based on a Presentation to the International Forum on Working Children, La Paz, Bolivia, 16–18 October 2017.

References

André, Géraldine, and Mathieu Hilgers. "Childhood in Africa between Local Powers and Global Hierachies." Chap. 7 In Childhood with Bourdieu, edited by Leena Alanen, Liz Brooker and Berry Mayall, 120–41. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmilla, 2015.

Ariely, Dan. Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions. HarperCollins: London, 2008.

Aufseeser, Dena. "Limiting Spaces of Informal Learning among Street Children in Perú." In Informal Education, Childhood and Youth: Geographies, Histories, Practices, Publisher: Palgrave, Editors: Pp.112-123, edited by Sarah Mills and Peter Kraftl, 112–23. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.

Aufseeser, Dena, Michael Bourdillon, Richard Carothers, and Olivia Lecooufle. "Children’s Work and Children’s Well-Being: Implications for Policy." Development Policy Review  (2017).

Banerjee, Abhijit V., Swati Bhattacharjee, Raghabendra Chattopadhyay, and Alejandro J. Ganimian. "The Untapped Math Skills of Working Children in India: Evidence, Possible Explanations, and Implications." (August 2017 2017).

Bolin, Inge. Growing up in a Culture of Respect: Child Rearing in Highland Peru. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2006.

Bourdillon, Michael, Deborah Levison, William Myers, and Ben White. Rights and Wrongs of Children's Work. Rutgers Series in Childhood Studies. Edited by Myra Bluebond-Langner New Brunswick, etc.: Rutgers University Press, 2011.

Call, Kathleen T. "Adolescent Work as 'an Arena of Comfort'." In Adolescents, Work, and Family: An Intergenerational Developmental Analysis, edited by J. T. Mortimer and M. D. Finch, 129–66. Thousand Oaks, London, New Delhi: Sage Publications, 1996.

Coppens, Andrew D., Lucía Alcalá, Barbara Rogoff, and Rebeca Mejía-Arauz. "Children’s Contributions in Family Work: Two Cultural Paradigms." In Families, Intergenerationality, and Peer Group Relations, Geographies of Children and Young People 5, edited by Samantha Punch and R.M. Vanderbbeck, 2016.

Dammert, Ana C., Jacobus de Hoop, Eric Mvukiyehe, and Furio C. Rosati. "Effects of Public Policy on Child Labor: Current Knowledge, Gaps, and Implications for Program Design." New York: World Bank, 2017.

Gilbert, Daniel. Stumbilng on Happiness. New York: Random House, 2007.

Grier, Beverley C. Invisible Hands: Child Labour and the State in Colonial Zimbabwe. Social History of Africa. Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann, 2005.

Gustafsson, I. Schools and the Transformation of Work: A Comparative Study of Four Productive Work Programmes in Southern Africa. Stockholm: Institute of International Education, University of Stockholm, 1987.

Heymann, Jody, and Kristen McNeill. Children's Chances: How Countries Can Move from Surviving to Thriving. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2013.

Howard, Neil. Child Trafficking, Youth Labour Mobility and the Politics of Protection. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.

Huberman, Jenny. Ambivalent Encounters: Childhood, Tourism, and Social Change in Banaras, India. Rutgers Series in Childhood Studies. Edited by Myra Bluebond-Langner New Brunswick: Rtgers University Press, 2012.

ILO. Global Estimates of Child Labour: Rights and Trends 2012–2016. Geneva: ILO, 2017.

———. World Report on Child Labour: Economic Vulnerability, Social Protection and the Fight against Child Labour. Geneva: International Labour Office, 2013.

Invernizzi, Antonella. "Street-Working Children and Adolescents in Lima: Work as an Agent of Socialization." Childhood 10, no. 3 (2003): 319–41.

Kahnerman, Daniel. Thinking, Fast and Slow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux., 2011.

Levison, Deborah, and Megan Roberts. "Youth Perspectives on Child Labor Regulations in U.S. Agriculture." 2015.

Mercier, Hugo, and Dan Sperber. "Why Do Humans Reason? Arguments for an Argumentative Theory." Behavioral and Brain Sciences 34 (2011): 57–111.

Mortimer, Jeylan T. Work and Growing up in America. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003.

Myers, William. "Can Children's Work and Education Be Reconciled." International Journal of Educational Policy, Research and Practice 2, no. 3 (2001): 307–30.

Nunes, Terezinha, Analucia Dias Schliemann, and David William Carraher. Street Mathematics and School Mathematics. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

Putnick, Diane L., and Marc H. Bornstein. "Is Child Labor a Barrier to School Enrollment in Low- and Middle-Income Countries?". International Journal of Educational Development 41 (2015): 112–20.

Serpell, Robert. "Social Responsibility as a Dimension of Intelligence, and as an Educational Goal: Insights from Programmatic Research in an African Society." Child Development Perspectives 5, no. 2 (2011): 126–33.

Sloman, Steven, and Philip Fernbach. The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone. New York: Riverhead Books, 2017.

White, Ben. Who Will Own the Countryside? Dispossession, Rural Youth and the Future of Farming. Valedictory Address. The Hague: International Institute of Social Studies, University of Rotterdam, 2011.

Woodhead, Martin. "Psychosocial Impacts of Child Work: A Framework for Research, Monitoring and Intervention." International Journal of Children’s Rights 12, no. 4 (2004): 321–77.

  1. Dena Aufseeser et al., "Children’s Work and Children’s Well-Being: Implications for Policy," Development Policy Review (2017) ↩︎
  2. ILO, World Report on Child Labour: Economic Vulnerability, Social Protection and the Fight against Child Labour (Geneva: International Labour Office, 2013), chapter 4, 27–54. ↩︎
  3. Ana C. Dammert et al., "Effects of Public Policy on Child Labor: Current Knowledge, Gaps, and Implications for Program Design," (New York: World Bank, 2017). ↩︎
  4. Summarised in Michael Bourdillon et al., Rights and Wrongs of Children's Work, ed. Myra Bluebond-Langner, Rutgers Series in Childhood Studies (New Brunswick, etc.: Rutgers University Press, 2011), 194–200. ↩︎
  5. See Martin Woodhead, "Psychosocial Impacts of Child Work: A Framework for Research, Monitoring and Intervention," International Journal of Children’s Rights 12, no. 4 (2004) ↩︎
  6. Beverley C. Grier, Invisible Hands: Child Labour and the State in Colonial Zimbabwe, Social History of Africa (Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann, 2005), 88–90; Kathleen T. Call, "Adolescent Work as 'an Arena of Comfort'," in Adolescents, Work, and Family: An Intergenerational Developmental Analysis, ed. J. T. Mortimer and M. D. Finch (Thousand Oaks, London, New Delhi: Sage Publications, 1996). ↩︎
  7. I think, for example, of the 80-year Harvard Study of Adult Development (see Robert Waldinger’s summary presentation); or recent explorations of well-being by economist John Helliwell (John F. Helliwell et al., "Social Capital and Prosocial Behaviour as Sources of Well-Being," (Cambridge MA: National Bureau of Economic Research, 2017)) ↩︎
  8. I think of Robert Serpell’s argument that the values behind school practices detract from community social values: "Social Responsibility as a Dimension of Intelligence, and as an Educational Goal: Insights from Programmatic Research in an African Society," Child Development Perspectives 5, no. 2 (2011) ↩︎
  9. Andrew D. Coppens et al., "Children’s Contributions in Family Work: Two Cultural Paradigms," in Families, Intergenerationality, and Peer Group Relations, Geographies of Children and Young People 5, ed. Samantha Punch and R.M. Vanderbbeck (2016) ↩︎
  10. Ibid., p. 3. ↩︎
  11. A good example is Inge Bolin, Growing up in a Culture of Respect: Child Rearing in Highland Peru (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2006) ↩︎
  12. Terezinha Nunes, Analucia Dias Schliemann, and David William Carraher, Street Mathematics and School Mathematics (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993); Abhijit V. Banerjee et al., "The Untapped Math Skills of Working Children in India: Evidence, Possible Explanations, and Implications," (2017). ↩︎
  13. Dena Aufseeser, "Limiting Spaces of Informal Learning among Street Children in Perú," in Informal Education, Childhood and Youth: Geographies, Histories, Practices, Publisher: Palgrave, Editors: Pp.112-123, ed. Sarah Mills and Peter Kraftl (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017); Antonella Invernizzi, "Street-Working Children and Adolescents in Lima: Work as an Agent of Socialization," Childhood 10, no. 3 (2003); Jenny Huberman, Ambivalent Encounters: Childhood, Tourism, and Social Change in Banaras, India, ed. Myra Bluebond-Langner, Rutgers Series in Childhood Studies (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2012). ↩︎
  14. You Lead: Innovative Skill Recognition and Leadership Training Program ↩︎
  15. http://www.younglives.org.uk/ ↩︎
  16. Diane L. Putnick and Marc H. Bornstein, "Is Child Labor a Barrier to School Enrollment in Low- and Middle-Income Countries?," International Journal of Educational Development 41 (2015), 118 ↩︎
  17. William Myers, "Can Children's Work and Education Be Reconciled," International Journal of Educational Policy, Research and Practice 2, no. 3 (2001), 324-325; I. Gustafsson, Schools and the Transformation of Work: A Comparative Study of Four Productive Work Programmes in Southern Africa (Stockholm: Institute of International Education, University of Stockholm, 1987). ↩︎
  18. Jeylan T. Mortimer, Work and Growing up in America (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003) ↩︎
  19. Community-Connected Experiential Learning ↩︎
  20. ILO, Global Estimates of Child Labour: Rights and Trends 2012–2016 (Geneva: ILO, 2017), 31, 33. ↩︎
  21. Ben White, Who Will Own the Countryside? Dispossession, Rural Youth and the Future of Farming, Valedictory Address (The Hague: International Institute of Social Studies, University of Rotterdam, 2011) ↩︎
  22. Deborah Levison and Megan Roberts, "Youth Perspectives on Child Labor Regulations in U.S. Agriculture," (2015) ↩︎
  23. Putnick and Bornstein, , 112. ↩︎
  24. Dan Ariely, Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions (HarperCollins: London, 2008) ↩︎
  25. Daniel Kahnerman, Thinking, Fast and Slow (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux., 2011), chapter 28 ↩︎
  26. This applies even to scholars: For example, in their acclaimed book Children’s Chances, which looks at policies of countries throughout the world, Heymann and McNeil raise questions about benefits of children’s work and say that it is important to answer these; but their answer ignores the benefits they claim to be considering and instead talks about work interfering with school and listing health hazards of work. Jody Heymann and Kristen McNeill, Children's Chances: How Countries Can Move from Surviving to Thriving (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2013), 61–64. ↩︎
  27. Daniel Gilbert, Stumbilng on Happiness (New York: Random House, 2007) ↩︎
  28. Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber, "Why Do Humans Reason? Arguments for an Argumentative Theory," Behavioral and Brain Sciences 34 (2011). ↩︎
  29. E.g., Neil Howard, Child Trafficking, Youth Labour Mobility and the Politics of Protection (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), chapter 4, 96–120. ↩︎
  30. Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach, The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone (New York: Riverhead Books, 2017) ↩︎
  31. See Géraldine André and Mathieu Hilgers, "Childhood in Africa between Local Powers and Global Hierachies," in Childhood with Bourdieu, ed. Leena Alanen, Liz Brooker, and Berry Mayall (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmilla, 2015) ↩︎
  32. For a brief exposure of the limitations of numbers bias by the technology ethnographer Tricia Wang, see ‘The human insights missing from big data’. ↩︎
About the author

Michael Bourdillon lives in Zimbabwe and is Professor Emeritus at the University of Zimbabwe. He has practical experience with street and working children, and has published several books and articles on children’s work.

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