Posted: March 24th, 2023

The Incidence of Child Labor in Consumer Goods Production: Dissertation Proposal


Child labor is widespread in developing countries. Several economic sectors in third-world nations involve children in labor. The practice of child labor is often characterized by poor pay, long working hours, and failure to observe the requirements of occupational and health standards in the workplace. However, most consumers are not keen on the link of child labor to products and designs retailed in the market. Several designer brands, especially in the clothing and apparel sector, have links to child labor from their preliminary processes of material sourcing, production, and packaging (da Silva Lopes 2016). Although efforts to end child labor are being made, consumer preferences for products with such links continue to promote perpetrators’ interests in ongoing child exploitation.

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Literature Review

Child labor is rampant in most export processing zones (EPZ) in developing and underdeveloped countries. The United Nations (UN) general assembly, in its fiftieth session, adopted resolution No. 50/153, which was aimed at protecting the rights of children from economic exploitation, hazardous work environment, and other aspects detriment to the child’s development (Khakshour et al. 2015, p. 460). Parton (2014) observes that the UN is responsible for implementing statutes upon governments. The nations should facilitate the development of legislation and policy frameworks to achieve the set objectives (Olivetti & Petrongolo 2017).  In conformity with the UN expectations, countries have developed progressive structures that protect children against economic exploitation. However, implementing policies, especially in the manufacturing sector, has remained challenging in several developing nations.

A report launched in 2015 and titled “Cotton’s Forgotten Children” depicts a case of half a million Indian children suffering from economic exploitation. The report outlines that the clothing industry in India has prevalent aspects of child labor running through the entire cotton value chain. Notably, most affected children are from the low caste Dalit and Adivasi families, with more girls witnessed on the cottonseed farms than boys. Dash, Prashad, and Dutta (2018) aver that children working in the Indian cotton fields receive below 75 cents a day and work in extreme temperature conditions for more than twelve hours a day.

Children within these scenarios are deprived of their fundamental rights like play and education that support their cognitive growth and development (Agarwal & Pathak 2015). Similar perspectives are also common in Bangladesh and China, where children’s exposure to health hazards is potentially high (Ahmed & Ray 2014). The issues around child labor must be managed to allow them to grow and acquire education rather than socialize them into adulthood through economic engagements.

Consumers have a significant role to play in managing issues of child labor. Firstly, most globally recognized fashion brands in clothing and apparel have linkages to offshore companies and EPZs that promote child labor and other economic exploitations, such as poor wages to their employees. Secondly, developed nations’ production lines and manufacturing companies have connections with third-world states where they source raw materials through child labor procedures (Dewulf et al. 2015). According to Holzscheiter (2016), when consumers are sensitive to the entire value chain, they streamline ethical practices within the processing and marketing systems of the products (p. 221).

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As such, consumers have a significant role to play in ending the incidences of child labor on the global platform. Accordingly, boycotting products suspected to have links with child labor can effectively create awareness among both promoters and perpetrators of the act by denying them business opportunities (da Silva Lopes 2016). Therefore, consumers should ensure that ethical considerations regarding the operations of the company or brand owner influence their purchasing interests.

Ending child abuse is the responsibility of the global consumer. Scholars, global media companies, and consumers are responsible for eliminating child labor and other forms of economic exploitation through digital platforms such as social media (Page 2017). Through spirited campaigns, publications, and exposing either local or international brands linked to child abuse, the platforms can help to end the practice. Conceited global efforts, especially from the consumer perspective, have the potential to end child labor and economic exploitation prevalent on the global platform.

Specific Research Objectives

The research will seek to achieve the following objectives:

  1. To ascertain the extent to which consumers influence ending incidences of child labor in the world through boycotting products.
  2. To establish the role of media, research scholars, and global citizenry in eliminating child labor practices through reporting perpetrators during conversations on the digital platform, including social media.
  3. To examine the consumer purchasing trends for products in the market with exclusive information that links them to child labor compared to those without such disclosure.

Research Questions

  1. What is the role of the consumers in combating child labor linked to the products retailed in the marketplace?
  2. How is effective reporting, publishing information, and engaging in public discussions about products linked to child labor inhibit the practice in the global arena?
  • How do products that carry certain child labor information influence consumer-purchasing trends in the market?

 Methodology of the Study

The study’s empirical investigations will be done through a qualitative approach. The research will gather secondary data to seek answers to the underlying research questions. The information will be collected from available academic literature, especially peer-reviewed journals, books, and professional publications. The investigations into the secondary information will develop an in-depth approach to capture both approving and divergent viewpoints from academic and industry professionals. The researcher will illustrate the conflicting standpoints in the publications and make recommendations at the end of the research based on the merit of the arguments.

It is worth noting that ethical issues in the research are likely to arise from the right to publish academic views of professionals captured in the literature publication. Therefore, the researcher will guarantee that the published views are acknowledged per the academic referencing rules. The ethical expectations will also bind the study by ensuring it corroborates any information received, which may be detrimental to the adversely mentioned products.



Agarwal, PK, and Pathak, AC 2015, ‘A socio–economic analysis of child labour in India,’ Journal of Science & Management, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 107-114.

Ahmed, S, and Ray, R 2014, ‘Health consequences of child labour in Bangladesh,’ Demographic Research, vol. 30, pp. 111-150.

da Silva Lopes, T 2016, ‘Building brand reputation through third-party endorsement: fair trade in British chocolate’, Business History Review, vol. 90, no. 3, pp. 457-482.

Dash, BM, Prashad, L, and Dutta, M 2018, ‘Demographic trends of child labour in India: Implications for Policy Reforms,’ Global Business Review, vol. 19, no. 5, pp. 1345-1362.

Dewulf, J, Mancini, L, Blengini, GA, Sala, S, Latunussa, C, and Pennington, D 2015, ‘Toward an overall analytical framework for the integrated sustainability assessment of the production and supply of raw materials and primary energy carriers,’ Journal of Industrial Ecology, vol. 19, no. 6, pp. 963-977.

Holzscheiter, A 2016, ‘Representation as power and performative practice: Global civil society advocacy for working children,’ Review of International Studies, vol. 42, no. 2, pp. 205-226.

Khakshour, A, Ajilian Abbasi, M, Sayedi, SJ, Saeidi, M and Khodaee, GH 2015, ‘Child labor facts in the worldwide: a review article,’ International Journal of Pediatrics, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 467-473.

Olivetti, C, and Petrongolo, B 2017, ‘The economic consequences of family policies: lessons from a century of legislation in high-income countries,’ Journal of Economic Perspectives, vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 205-230.

Page, A. 2017, ‘How many slaves work for you? race, new media, and neoliberal consumer activism,’ Journal of Consumer Culture, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 46-61.

Parton, N 2014, ‘Social work, child protection and politics: some critical and constructive reflections,’ British Journal of Social Work, vol. 44, no. 7, pp. 2042-2056.


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