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a blog from young economists at Nova SBE

Poverty: between child exploitation and child illeteracy

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Every year six millions children under five starve to death or die of curable illnesses such as dysentery, pneumonia or malaria. FAO reports that malnutrition – still 143 millions children in the developing Countries suffer it – causes almost half of about five millions of deaths reported in the world every year among children under five.

Child exploitation is cause and consequence of poverty and grows when people must face without any help its poverty without free schools and health, and families are compelled to ask to each members to work to survive. As far as this situation is concerned, an Unicef research in Latin America points out how the purchasing power of the family increases of 10-20% maximum with the works of little children: poverty still remains.

 Child exploitation in the working places involves 218 millions children (default estimation, as we talk about illicit situations) who are obliged to work deprived of education, health and game: 126 millions of them carry on dangerous activities risking their lives.

One child among five, for example, has no free admittance to drinkable water; this causes the death of 2,5 millions of children every year. 143 millions of children suffer from malnutrition, cause of the 40% of the whole infantile mortality.  

Another important problem is the plague of the child soldiers and the prostitution: over 250.000 children under 15 are recruited and used in the state armed forces and in non-state armed groups (in the Democratic Republic of Congo at present about 11.000 children have been kidnapped by the guerrillas), and one million of children every are led to prostitution, often by their parents themselves to pay their debts.

Unicef is trying to solve the present situation with two kinds of interventions: programs to substain the domestic household to make the children’s work unnecessary and intervention in favour of children workers to grant them the possibility to attend school and to get an education.

Another problem for children is the illiteracy. Over 130 millions of children of age of primary school grow up, in the developing Countries, without any chance to get a basic education. If we add to this number the other 20 millions of children that do not complete the four years of school (minimum period to grant a minimum ‘learned’ child), we obtain a total of 150 millions. Moreover 77 millions of boys and girls in the South of the world cannot write or read. The most part of these are girls, condemned to an uncertain future. The 57% of girls of age of primary school are deprived of education due to cultural, economic, discrimination reasons.

However Child labour and children illiteracy  are only two of the several problems that children are compelled to face, and they are only two of the several problems concerning poverty, that everyone in the world should try to face and solve.


Author: studentnovasbe

Master student in Nova Sbe

One thought on “Poverty: between child exploitation and child illeteracy

  1. On the Copenhagen Consensus of 2009 the panel of economists estimated that the return on malnutrition is xtremely high.
    Their arguments was that malnutrition is mostly located on children and that the marginal benefit of not letting them die and starve is enormous. Fighting Malaria was also among top investments.

    (You also have to keep in mind that food has decreasing marginal utility).

    The problem is again political. I would like to see more details on some of the political actions taken to tackle this issue.

    A comparison between Asia and Africa would also be interesting.