Posted: March 24th, 2023

The State of Child Labor in Vietnam

Many children engage in child labor in Vietnam to provide for their families at the expense of their education. An estimated 1.7 million children, representing 9.6 percent of the country’s population under the age of 18, are working as laborers (The Borgen Project, 2015). Most minors are employed on farms and plants and earn minimal wages. In addition, they are forced to work for an average of 42 hours per week, which means they do not have time for school (The Borgen Project, 2015). Although the Vietnamese government is implementing policies to curb the issue of underage workers, child labor remains the biggest challenge in the country.

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Human trafficking is another major issue contributing to child labor in Vietnam. Traffickers usually target children in remote rural areas by promising them education opportunities in cities. On the other hand, parents from these poor backgrounds might agree that they are oblivious to human trafficking businesses that only benefit traffickers. A high percentage of children are taken away from their rural homes, do not receive the education they had been promised, and are forced to work in factories and agricultural farms or become domestic laborers (The Borgen Project, 2015). They are also denied the fundamental right to education while the rich take advantage of their parents’ innocence and ignorance.

Most children are lured into becoming underage laborers, mistreated, and forced to work long hours. For instance, a boy named Hieu was taken from his remote village of Dien Bien, one of the country’s poorest regions. Together with other children, they were locked in a small room and forced to work from 6 am until midnight (The Borgen Project, 2015). They were punished while working and did not receive any compensation for their work. Luckily, Hieu escaped and received assistance from the Blue Dragon Foundation, a Vietnamese charity organization that helps child trafficking victims and laborers (The Borgen Project, 2015). Such foundations have played a key role in liberating the lives of child labor victims. Nonetheless, curbing child trafficking and forced labor is difficult since the perpetrators have realized how lucrative the business has become.

The Vietnamese government has set measures to curb trafficking by formulating laws prohibiting the employment of a person under 15. However, the system is corrupt, creating loopholes and making it hard to protect children (Dutta, 2002). The laws are not implemented, giving employers leeway to continue using children as workers. Moreover, some Vietnamese believe minors must help their families and bear financial responsibilities. Therefore, this perception makes the issue of child labor more challenging in Vietnam. Although the Vietnamese government’s view on child labor is changing, laying out new strategies to curb the vice is critical (Dutta, 2002). Therefore, the administration must enforce all the laws and deal with involved illegal businesses to end child labor.

The government must liaise with related organizations to ensure parents are aware of child labor. For instance, the government has come together with the International Labor Organization to create awareness initiatives about children’s protection, the effects of early child labor, and the need to take children back to school. Recently, efforts have been initiated to reduce and stop child labor in Vietnam. These attempts have started to bear results with a decline in the number of children being involved in labor. Vietnamese law complements the International Labor Law standards; hence, the number of children involved in labor and trafficking is reducing (Dutta, 2002). It is evident that despite the complexity of this issue, the agencies involved in regulating child labor have put measures to curb the vice. 

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The Effects of Child Labor

Child labor is persistent in developing countries. An estimated 250 million children between the ages of 5 to 15 are working. As a result, European countries have imposed trade sanctions that bar goods from countries associated with child labor (Beegle, Dehejia, & Gatti, 2009). The primary goal of these trade sanctions is to force developing countries to take action against those involved in child labor. Even though the move may negatively affect the country’s economy, it would save children and offer them educational opportunities. In essence, engaging children in the labor force to maximize profits is unethical since the approach would create unfair competition in the industry.

The parents might be aware of their children working, and in some cases, they even receive remuneration on their behalf. Most parents from developing countries prefer to have their children work rather than attend school (Beegle et al., 2009). Poverty is preceded by child labor. Young people strive to earn a living, and employers use them as a cheap workforce. The high cost of production has forced businesses to engage in child labor. However, forcing children to work in farms and factories to make more profit is against business ethics. The employer uses unethical approaches at the expense of the children’s education.

Child labor affects the early life of children and denies them education opportunities. They are also involved in risky tasks, which may affect their health. Children have been involved in dangerous mining, fishing, and construction sectors. Although those working engagements are also risky for adults, children are considered more vulnerable since they have not developed mentally and physically. In addition, the tools used by the children are not designed for them, thus exposing them to additional hazards (Beegle et al., 2009). Hence, child labor may have detrimental effects on young persons’ life due to the dangers involved.

Parents who send their children to work instead of allowing them to go to school affect the future of these children negatively. Given that labor competes with school, the child will not perform well in class, thus missing the opportunity to improve future productivity and earnings. Hence, this aspect lowers their prospective wage and increases the chances of sending their offspring to work. As child labor continues, poverty will persist from generation to the next.

Child labor is a global problem that has become rampant, especially after the Vietnam War. Many children are forced to do jobs while others are sent to work by their parents, earning little or no pay. The issue has been rampant in Vietnam due to high poverty levels in the country. Employers’ pursuit of cheaper labor to raise their profits has also contributed to increased child labor. Therefore, the fight against child labor has intensified across the globe, with some European countries imposing sanctions on states such as Vietnam to force them to take action against the perpetrators. Child labor affects peoples’ futures, and parents must realize that. Parents must be made aware of the risks associated with minors’ labor. Taking all adverse effects into account, the Vietnam government has made critical steps in reducing child labor while increasing school attendance.



Beegle, K., Dehejia, R., & Gatti, R. (2009). Why should we care about child labor? The education, labor market, and health consequences of child labor. Journal of Human Resources, 44(4), 871-889.

Dutta, G. (2002). Child labor in Vietnam: The relative importance of poverty, returns to education, labor mobility, and credit constraints. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri.

The Borgen Project. (2015). Child labor in Vietnam. Retrieved from


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