How Covid-19 could increase child labour – EDJ News

Economic migrants and migrant workers enriched their home countries by $554 billion. The World Bank projects this amount to decline by about 20 percent this year to $445 billion. The countries affected are lower- and middle-income states, or most of the world outside the eurozone, North America, Australia and New-Zealand, Japan and South Korea. Across the world a total of $714 billion was sent home by those working abroad last year, although the World Bank’s analysis only predicts possible data for the lower- and middle-income countries. For its part Hungary fell into the same category as the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Central Asia and former Soviet states.

The World Bank points out that migrant workers have been especially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated economic crisis, shutdowns and travel restrictions. Their situation is exacerbated by the fact that most of them work in sectors on the front lines of the pandemic, such as health care and agriculture. These workers are at risk of infection of course, but they have also been the first to lose jobs, salaries or social security.

Some countries are sustained by migrant workers 

The remittances of migrant workers serve as a lifeline for poorer households in many countries. Without them, poverty may increase and access to health or education of those at home may fall as family members spend available money on immediate living expenses.

Remittance flows are known to reduce child labour, although the practice remains distressingly present in several places. 

In Madagascar for example, where the number of children outside education is the fifth highest in the world (also based on World Bank data), 47 percent of children between the ages of 5 and 17 are engaged in child labour. Most of them, 87 percent, are forced to work in agriculture. 4 percent, or 86,000 children, work in one of the many mica mines. 

Falls in remittance flows have other negative impacts too. Due to shutdowns and disrupted international trade, foreign direct investments will fall. The World Bank projects a 35 percent FDI decline in the countries it surveyed. This puts pressure on the countries concerned to seek alternative foreign support, which can lead to further indebtedness. 

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Text & Image Source: EDJNet – The European Data Journalism Network, distribute under CC BY 4.0 International licence.

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