Study: Child Laborers In Bangladesh Are Working 64 Hours A Week : Goats and Soda A new report from the Overseas Development Institute finds that impoverished children are working long hours in violation of the country's labor laws.

Study: Child Laborers In Bangladesh Are Working 64 Hours A Week

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We have a story next about people who are working on average 64 hours per week. That's a long workweek. Certainly, many American adults work that long, but, in this case, we are talking about children who work 64 hours per week in Bangladesh in violation of that country's labor laws. NPR's Jason Beaubien reports that many of the kids are likely to end up trapped in a cycle of poverty.

JASON BEAUBIEN, BYLINE: Researchers from the London-based Overseas Development Institute surveyed nearly 3,000 households in the slums of Dhaka. They found children as young as 6 employed full time and others working up to 100 hours a week. On average, these kids earned less than $2 a day.

MARIA QUATTRI: And the prevalence of child labor in Bangladesh is worrisome.

BEAUBIEN: Maria Quattri is one of the authors of the study. She says the majority of girls who are employed are toiling in the garment industry. Boys' jobs varied from factory work to construction to selling goods on the streets. The legal age of employment in Bangladesh is 14, although 12 and 13 year olds are permitted to do what's deemed light work for up to 42 hours per week. Quattri says this survey found that the labor laws are widely ignored. She also says much of the work done by children is in the informal sector making it hard to regulate.

QUATTRI: So they're mainly working for subcontractors in informal garment factories that produce a part of the final product but that is then sold to formal businesses. And the formal businesses export the product.

BEAUBIEN: Worse than the long hours and dismal pay, the researchers found that most of the kids who started working between the ages of 6 and 10 couldn't read a simple sentence or do basic math. Public education is free only for elementary school in Bangladesh. Quattri says the cost of school is one of the main reasons poor families reported sending their 11, 12 and 13 year olds into the workforce.

This report and others suggest that millions of kids under the age of 14 in Bangladesh are working. And once they start working 60, 80 or 100 hours a week, it's very hard for them to ever escape those low-wage jobs. Jason Beaubien, NPR News.

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