The late, heroic Harry Browne on child labor:
Child labor was disappearing in America by the end of the 1800s. The first federal child labor law was passed in 1938. Government didn’t end child labor, technology did.
In the early 1800s, farm families needed every member of the family to work long hours just to stay even. When the Industrial Revolution began, children went to work in factories because they were more productive there, their hours were shorter, and they could contribute more to their families. As technology improved, it became possible by the end of the 1800s for one person to produce enough to support an entire family – and child labor no longer was necessary.
Before you boycott companies that use child labor in foreign countries, ask yourself what will happen to the children if those factories are closed down. Will they go into prostitution or stealing? They are working in the factories because they have to – to help support families who can’t survive , as we can, with just the adults working. They are choosing the best alternative available. Take away that alternative and they will have to turn to something worse.