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Children in bondage.

One of the oldest of human institutions, slavery has been practiced from pre-historic times by social groups ranging culturally from primitive to the most advanced. In France the Convention abolished slavery in 1791; in British India slaves were freed in 1843; Sweden abolished slavery in 1846, Denmark in 1848, Portugal 1956, Holland in 1860, Brazil in 1884, United States of America in 1865. The League of Nations in its International Slavery Convention of 1926 adopted resolutions for abolition of slavery.

Child labour is defined as work performed by children that either endangers their health or safety, interferes with or prevents their education or keeps them from play and other activity important to their development. The age of child labour is accepted as below 15 years.

Child labour on the world scene first came under attach in 1900 when the International Association for Labour Legislation was founded. The cause has since been taken over by the International Labour Organisation. The United Nations General Assembly in 1959 adopted a Declaration of the Rights of the Child. Unfortunately, inspite of all these actions not only Child labour is prevalent in most countries of the world but Child Bondage is also present in some countries.

Pakistan

Manpower utilisation and unemployment problems in any country originate essentially in long-term process reflecting social factors and structural imbalances generated in the process of development itself. The most important among these in developing countries is a high rate of growth of population unmatched by sufficient investment to ensure new employment and growth in productivity. A population of 113 million and growth rate of 3.1 per cent per annum, Pakistan has virtually the highest rate of increase in population in the world. An investment rate of 17 per cent of GDP, on the other hand, is substantially below the average of low income countries (29 per cent per annum). Pakistan's GDP growth was barely adequate to create additional employment opportunities at a rate of below 3 per cent per annum during the early and mid-eighties. This growth rate of GDP appears to be slowing down towards the close of the decade with no significant decline in population and consequent further reduction in the rate of growth of those seeking employment. The imbalance between the supply of people needing employment and demand for their services is almost certain to grow.

Supply of Manpower

In the immediate period ahead, the active manpower in the country has already been determined by the birth rate of the previous two decades. The manpower supply is determined by that part of the population of working age who are able and willing to engage themselves in economic activity. In Pakistan the working age is regarded as 10 years and above. The active age of the population as considered internationally and by ILO is, however, in the age group from 15 years of age to 64 years. Child labour (below 15 years of age) is on the decline though still prevalent in Pakistan.

In Pakistan, the active manpower or the labour force was estimated as 29.93 million in 1987-88 for which the latest labour force survey was available. This constituted slightly less than 29 per cent of the total population in that year. This rate of the economically active population to the total population, known as the crude participation rate is low in Pakistan, compared not only to the developed economies of the world but also in relation to a number of developing economies. As Table 1.1 indicates, the participation rate has been declining marginally since 1978-79 when it reached peak level of 31 per cent.

The low level of crude participation rate shows two problems. Firstly the ratio of young population is quite high in Pakistan. According to latest estimates 45 per cent of the population of Pakistan is of the age of 15 years or less. Some of those in the age group 10 to 15 years do work, but only a small proportion. Secondly, the social values in Pakistan have discouraged full participation of women in direct income generating economic activity outside the precincts of their homes. For these reasons, it is better to focus on Refined Activity Ratio by relating work force with these in the relevant age group. As may be seen from Table 1.1, the participation rate of those in the age group of 15 years and above has been steady around the level of 50 per cent. In the male population, the TABULAR DATA OMITTED participation rate of adult age has been around 85 per cent. This is comparable with the world average.

While participation rates for male population above 15 years of age are comparable with other countries, participation rates for females are extremely low. This is primarily due to the international standards for measurement of the labour force where identification of workers engaged in non-market production poses considerable problems. The subsistence character of primary production found in countries like Pakistan further compounds the problem. As most economic activities are usually performed by women in the precincts of their homes their exclusion from the purview of gainful employment effectively pre-empts the enumeration of home-based workers.

It would take some time before more sharply focused data on the participation of women in the work force is available. However, there is reason to believe that the qualitative judgement regarding the low participation among female population is not invalid. There are social norms and values which affect employment of women in the market economy. Some studies have indicated that there was reduction in female participation in families that improved their income level as a result of remittances from abroad. Also in a survey, when a question was asked regarding willingness of urban women to take up a job if offered to them, many women changed their status from being purely housewives to those in search of a job. The availability of suitable job and emergence of a more enlightened attitudes towards the participation of women in the work force would be changing this picture over the next decade. It is a reasonable assumption that female participation in the regular job market will be increasing. This would be more noticeable in case of the educated women.

The supply of labour and the number of new entrants in the employment market would be increasing both as a result of high population growth rate and increased participation by women. Being more educated and trained would be important characteristics of the new entrants in the labour market.

Labour Supply Projections

Within the limitation of existing statistical measurements, estimates of size of the labour supply have been projected from 1985 till the year 2010 for selected years under two different population growth scenarios. Under the high growth scenario population growth is projected at 3.15 per cent between 1990-2000 declining to 3.03 per cent between 2000-2010. Under the low growth scenario population growth is projected at 2.5 per cent between 1990-2000 and 2.4 per cent between 2000-2010. The projected growth of the labour force given in the growth rate of population will be dependent upon demographic shifts, changes in participation rates and net overseas migration.

The age-composition of the labour force will change as past population increase raises the proportion of the labour force between ages 10-24. The high population projection will keep this proportion high until 2010 but even the low projection would not envisage a big decline of this proportion until after the year 2000. Any impact of slowing down of population growth will be felt after the year 2000. The reason is that all new entrants to the labour force even in the next decade have already been born. It does, however, once again bring out the glaring need for slowing down the population growth.

The labour force participation rates especially for the age groups 10-24 will be primarily affected by increases in secondary school enrollment levels and changes in female school enrollment by 2000 are achieved, this should increase secondary school enrollment from about 30 percent in 1990 to over 65 per cent by 2000. This should have the same labour force participation rate which is at present about 35 per cent for the age-group 10-15 years. TABULAR DATA OMITTED At the same time an increase in female participation rates can be projected in the continuing economic growth and better education facilities for girls enhancing their opportunities for employment. In the projections made in Table 1.2, it is assumed that increase in educational enrollments for both males and females will be offset by increase in female participation rates and therefore overall participation levels will not significantly change over the projected period.

However, it is important to point out that the experience in recent years of trying to increase secondary school enrollment ratios has not been very successful and the figures have only marginally increased. If we assume slow rate of growth in secondary school enrollment and a 30 per cent increase in female participation rates between 1990-2000 then the growth rate of the labour force could be higher by about 10 per cent i.e. 3.6 instead of 3.3. per cent.

Overseas migration will only marginally affect the growth rate of the labour force. In the projections, it is assumed that the return migration will exceed out-migration by 50,000 per annum between 1990-95 and 20,000 per annum between 1995-2000. The estimate of 50,000 is based on actual recorded outmigration figures and estimates of return migration made from airport surveys conducted between 1984-85. In recent years i.e. 1987 and 1988 outmigration has marginally increased and there is some indication based on airport surveys conducted in 1987 that return migration has declined. However, even if the situation stabilizes and out and return migration are equal or even at best there is a slight positive net migration, its impact on the growth of the labour force will be marginal, perhaps decrease from 3.3 to 3.2 per cent. It is clear that emigration will no longer provide the safety valve to pressures of the increasing domestic labour force.

The strong message which emerges from these estimates is that the growth rate of the labour supply will in fact increase over the next decade and will be higher than the 3 per cent in the 1980s. If unemployment levels are not to increase, this means creating one and a quarter million jobs per annum over the next decade. This is a formidable task.

Unemployment

The labour force Survey annually conducted by the Federal Bureau of Statistics is the main source of information about unemployment in non-census years. The results have consistently indicated a low rate of open unemployment. Open unemployment measures the number of those who claim that they had no work during the week preceding the survey and were actively looking for work. Those who had some work for remuneration of any nature are excluded from the list of unemployed. On this definition, only one percent of labour force was unemployed in the sixties. The ratio increased to 4 per cent in 1984 and has since come down to 3.1 per cent in 1988 (Table 1.3).

This low ratio of recorded open unemployment has invited criticism from a number of quarters. There are a number of points that need to be taken into account in this regard:
Table 1.3
Open Unemployment and Underemployment Selected years
(Percentage of labour force)
 Unemployed Working less than 35 hours/week
 All Areas Rural Urban All Areas Rural Urban
1963-64 0.98 0.82 1.59 n.a. n.a. n.a.
1969-70 1.98 1.75 2.90 8.3 9.5 4.13
1974-75 1.69 1.3 2.7 4.8 5.5 2.8
1978-79 3.55 3.0 5.2 13.0 5.6 4.6
1982-83 3.90 3.3 5.8 14.0 16.2 7.0
1984-85 3.72 3.0 5.8 9.6 11.6 4.0
1986-87 3.05 2.50 4.5 10.4 12.7 4.4
1987-88 3.13 2.60 4.60 11.0 13.3 4.8


i) Firstly, complete unemployment in terms of having no source of current earning is a luxury in a developing country that very few can afford. The unemployed persons must be financially supported by family and friends. The circumstances push the job seekers to find some adjustment in the economy. This may be a casual or make-believe job, but some "work for remuneration" is involved.

ii) Secondly, in the western countries, the unemployment is recorded in response to unemployment benefits. In a developing country like Pakistan, there is no unemployment benefit. In fact there is a strong social taboo which would compel the job seekers to appear as having some work to do. It is only when there is a concrete possibility of finding a job that the full magnitude of unemployment reveals itself.

iii) Thirdly, and most important is the fact that open unemployment is a phenomenon belonging to the modern sector. In Pakistan, 48 per cent of the total manpower is still engaged in traditional lines in the form of self-employment. Another 25 per cent is involved in this sector as unpaid family workers. Thus more than 70 per cent of the labour force is in various stages of transition from a traditional society towards modern wage relationship. The number of wage employees or salaried employees is 7.39 million. The fact that there are 0.9 million unemployed workers in the country should be related to this number, rather than the total employment. This indicates that the open unemployment in the modern sector is as high as 12%.

Federal Bureau of Statistics conducted a survey of unemployment in Karachi. It came up with an unemployment rate of 7 per cent. More significant was the fact that the unemployment rate was 13 per cent in the age group 15 to 19. A study on unemployment and underemployment of educated was conducted by the Applied Economics Research Centre of Karachi University. According to a survey of 6195 households in Karachi carried out by the centre for this study, overall unemployment rate in Karachi was 9.6 per cent. It was higher for educated workers; the highest being 13.8 per cent with intermediate qualification.

Children in Bondage in Pakistan

Having given the overall labour and employment situation of Pakistan it is not difficult to perceive that due to economic reasons Child Bondage does exist in Pakistan, as in other countries, but at a minimal level. It is said that Child Bonded Labour is employed in the carpet weaving, brick kilns, agriculture, and straw weaving, small business activities etc. According to the Bonded Labour Liberation Front 8 million Bonded Child Labour of various categories are engaged in economic activities inspite of the Bonded Labour Abolition Act. In absence of official figures it is impossible to assess the situation. The figure seems to be exaggerated. However, there is evidence to support that in Pakistan there exists Child Bonded Labour in certain sectors and in limited form which is rapidly being eradicated.

While recognising the presence of this sinister social evil, it becomes imperative to analyse the causes without which it will be futile to attempt its eradication. It all comes down to gainful employment and income of adults. No sane person would be willing to sell voluntarily or under economic duress his child for exploitation unless the situation was a question of life or death, a choice no one should have to make. Therefore, unless each family unit can generate or earn a decent income, this evil will continue to desecrate the sacred trust reposed upon the society to protect the Child, the future of the nation!

M. Mahmud Quraishi, Chief Executive, Q. Consult. Mr. Quraishi is well known among professional circles in Pakistan as an eminent Management and Human Resources consultant. He has worked on a number of projects as national and international expert for the ILO and APO and covered 28 countries of Asia and Pacific region. Mr. Quraishi is Member of the British Institute of Management of the Chartered Institute of Transport and Fellow of the Institute of Motor Industry (UK). He is also Member of the National Working Group on Industrial Training, Pakistan, Member of MAP and Member of the Seminar/Training Committee of the Employers Federation of Pakistan.
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Title Annotation:child labor
Author:Quraishi, Mahmud
Publication:Economic Review
Date:May 1, 1993
Words:2741
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