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Is child labour a substitute for adult labour?: A case study of brick kiln workers in Tamil Nadu, India

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to highlight that child labour is complementary to adult labour in the brick kiln industry. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The paper presents a case study of bonded labourers in the brick kiln industry of Southeast India. Findings ‐ The paper finds that child labour is used by parents in the moulding process in order to avoid falling into debt bondage. In this industry, brick making is organized as a home-based enterprise. Thus, child labour increases the family productivity and consequently its income. In case of a ban on child labour bonded parents will be worse-off. NGOs can play an essential role by preventing families from falling into bondage and by improving their living standards. Originality/value ‐ The results may help the NGOs address child labour issues in the developing world.
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Keywords: Children (age groups); India; Labour; Poverty

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2006

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