A world dominated by youth: child and youth labour in Queensland, 1885-1900
One of the key characteristics of late nineteenth century labour was its youth. During the period 1885 to 1900 this attribute was particularly pronounced in Queensland where nearly half the population was under 20 years of age. While labour historians have long recognised that child and youth labour was associated with sub-standard employment, little attention has been paid to the ways in which this disproportionately large demographic shaped both the operation of the overall labour market and patterns of trade union organisation. This paper argues that both can only be understood in the context of the labour supply pressures exerted by an exceptionally large youth cohort. The wide-scale use of child labour was, however, a product of specific temporal and geographic experiences. By 1900 the nation's demographic profile was rapidly maturing as the birth rate slowed dramatically.
The Past is before us: Proceedings of the ninth national labour history conference