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Child Labor in the English Industrial Revolution
- Bibliographic entry
Horrel and Humphries. “The Exploitation of Little children: Child Labor and the Family Economy in the Industrial Revolution.” Explorations in Economic History 32 (1995): 485-516. Print.
The thesis of the article is that the number of working children greatly increased during Industrial revolution as the ages in which they began working decreased. “The Exploitation of Little children”, Child Labor and the Family Economy in the Industrial Revolution by Horrell and Humphries claims that during industrial revolution the number of working children increased highly. Different scholars have various views concerning the causes of child labor. There were some who argued that child labor was contributed by increase in domestic industry while others blamed child labor on factory production. The steam powered factories was a major contributor of child labor because it provided a lot of job opportunities.
Industrialization resulted into increased intensity of work done by children in the mines and outwork trades where work was done at piece rate. It is believed that domestic industry provided jobs even before the entry of factories and the children could work from dawn to dusk in agriculture. Labor changed from family labor to individual labor where children worked alongside family members or were subcontracted by adults. However, children were later left to stand on their own in the labor market as long as they were able to work. The age of the child was not a big issue so long the child could be able to work.
Child labor concentrated much in the next three decades in the 19th century although it is said to have declined in 1840’s. The decrease of child labor is attributed to numerous demand and supply side forces as well as the changes in technology that lowered tasks performed by children. It was unclear whether children who left their jobs did so voluntarily or they were displaced by the factories. The other uncertain issue was whether the children who left working in the factories went to seek for jobs in other places or remained unemployed. The employment rate of boys and girls was also not very clear during industrialization.
The most effective claim in the article is that most children started working during industrial revolution. Some of the evidence the authors use to support this claim is associating of increased job opportunities for children during industrial revolution. During industrialization, children who were not from agricultural families contributed a lot to their household compared to the agricultural families especially in the outworking families. Nevertheless these children’s income denoted only a third of the total family income. Father’s contributed larger percentage of their income to their families. It was apparent that child labor decreased around 1840 but the decrease in pattern largely depended on the father’s income. Children could not contribute much in their families when their parents could sustain the families. Ch.............
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