Re-considering child labor: why nineteenth century Australia was different
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An international revival of child labor has fostered a re-consideration of the theoretical explanations for the phenomenon. New research models have been suggested. Some emphasise supply factors (demography, family income choices). Others highlight demand factors (managerial "productivity-consciousness", the suitability of children for available work). Despite the variance in explanations, it is widely assumed that the widespread use of child labor is an inevitable feature of modernization. However, the experiences of nineteenth century Australia suggests that we need to be wary in making generalizations based solely upon Western European and North America events. In Australia, many factors - geography, climate, the nature of work, the role of the state in manufacturing - combined to limit demand for child labor. Such structural impediments are unlikely to have been unique to Australia. A consideration of such impediments - and patterns of national variation - is essential to understanding the current spread of child labor.
Best Paper Proceedings of Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2009
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