by Benjamin Powell
July 29, 2014
Anti-sweatshop groups almost universally condemn child labor and call for laws prohibiting child employment or boycotting products made with child labor. Yet these measures would ultimately harm the workers they were meant to help. Deplorable though they may be, sweatshops play an important role in the process of economic development – which is the best way to raise wages and improve working conditions. The end of child labor must come through a process that generates better opportunities for the children, and not from legislative mandates that prevent children and their families from taking the best option available to them. Banning child labor through trade regulations or governmental prohibitions often simply forces the children into less-desirable alternatives.