Child Workers, Globalization, and International Business Ethics

Business Ethics Quarterly 15 (4):615-640 (2005)
Abstract
Disputes regarding the ethics of work by children have intensified in recent years, with little resolution. The impasses stem from failure to recognize the diverse forms of child work and a lack of empirical research regarding its causes and consequences. We report on data gathered in Brazil’s export-oriented shoe industry, which is notorious for the employment of children. Central findings are: 1) the causes of child work have less to do with backwardness and more to do with how shoe workers are integrated into the global order; 2) local employers and children regard this work as benign, but the U.S. government sees it as hazardous to children and unfair to U.S. producers; 3) efforts to remove children from the shoe industry have been frustrated by local resistance and raise ethical questions; and 4) in certain circumstances, efforts to eliminate hazards from the workplace are morally superior to campaigns to remove childworkers from employment
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