The Economic and Social Costs of Child Labour

Child labour refers to the exploitation of children in a workplace that deprives them of their childhood and education. It is a global problem that affects millions of children around the world. Although it provides cheap labour for businesses, it comes at a great cost to the economic and social well-being of the children and society as a whole. In this blog, we will examine the economic and social costs of child labour.

Economic Costs of Child Labour

  1. Lost human potential: Children who work instead of going to school are denied an opportunity to develop their skills and talents, leading to a loss of human potential. This reduces the pool of skilled workers in the future, which can impede economic growth.
  2. Reduced innovation: Child labour can result in a lack of innovation in industries as young minds are not given the chance to develop and explore new ideas.
  3. Negative impact on tourism: Countries that have high levels of child labor can experience a negative impact on their tourism industry. This is because tourists may be deterred from visiting countries where they know that child labor is prevalent, as it can be seen as a violation of human rights. In turn, this can result in reduced revenue from tourism, fewer job opportunities, and a negative impact on the country’s overall economic growth.

Social Costs of Child Labour

  1. Educational Deprivation: Child labour often leads to educational deprivation, as children are forced to work instead of attending school. This limits their ability to access better job opportunities in the future, leading to a perpetuation of the poverty cycle.
  2. Health Risks: Child labourers are exposed to dangerous working conditions, which can lead to serious health risks such as respiratory problems, malnutrition, and physical injuries.
  3. Psychological Impact: Child labour can have a significant psychological impact on children, leading to depression, anxiety, and trauma. This can affect their mental health and well-being in the long run.
  4. Social Stigma: Child labourers are often stigmatized and discriminated against in society, leading to a lack of social inclusion and opportunities.

Examples of the Economic and Social Costs of Child Labour

  1. In India, child labour in the silk industry has resulted in an increase in respiratory problems among children due to exposure to hazardous chemicals.
  2. In Bangladesh, child labour in the garment industry has resulted in poor working conditions and low wages, leading to high employee turnover and reduced productivity.
  3. In Africa, child labour in the mining industry has resulted in a loss of human potential and an increase in health risks, as children are exposed to hazardous working conditions.
  4. In Sri Lanka, Up Country Tamils face the same issue. Child labour limits the development of a skilled workforce, as children in this community are unable to access education and develop their skills.


Child labour is a complex issue that requires a concerted effort from governments, businesses, and society as a whole. It is not only a violation of children’s rights but also has significant economic and social costs. To mitigate these costs, it is important to provide children with access to education and safe working conditions, while also enforcing laws and regulations that protect them from exploitation. Only then can we build a society that is inclusive, equitable, and prosperous for all.

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