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1.1 Background of the Study

In recent years, there has been growing interest in the subject of child labour
among academicians, professionals and the media. The subject has moved from
the national to the international arena. The prominence accorded to the subject
of child labour at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) meeting in Seattle is a
reflection of its pivotal importance in the international policy arena (Ranjan,
2000). A worldwide consensus exists that child labour should be eradicated and
that it is in the interest of both the children and the country as a whole that all
children go to school (UNICEF 2008; Sen 1999; Case 2001; World Bank 2002).
International bodies such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO), World
Bank (IBRD) and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and countries,
such as the United States of America (USA), have been concerned about the use
of child labour in the formal and informal sectors in most developing countries
(Barro, 1999).

According to (Khanam, 2004) specter of small children toiling long hours under
dehumanizing conditions has precipitated an intense debate concerning child
labour over the past decade and a half. As during the midst of the 19th century
industrial revolution, policy makers and the public have attempted to come to
grips with the causes and consequences of child labour. Coordinating a policy
response has revealed the complexity and moral ambiguity of the phenomenon
of working children.

Although child labour has been the norm throughout history, the fact of children
working and the difficult conditions under which children work occasionally
becomes more evident. In the midst of the 19th century, child labor became
more visible because children were drawn into an industrial setting. Currently,
child labour has become more visible because of the increase in the number of
children producing goods for export (Khanam, 2004).

In the same vain, (Beegle et al.,2008) holds that most working children in
developing countries are engaged in domestic tasks, such as caring for other
dependent members in the household and assisting on the family farm/business.
While these children are not involved in ‘hazardous’ forms of child labour,
which are targeted by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and
popularised in the media, the tasks they undertake may nevertheless have
adverse effects, including permanent loss of education and earlier marriage.

Though the ILO (1996a)’s estimates on labour force participation rates for
children aged 10-14 years show a declining trend, in absolute terms the size of
the child labour force is and will continue to be large enough to be of serious
concern. There is no universal agreement on the magnitude of the child labour
force, reflecting differences in the definition of child labour and in their
measurement. KebebewAshagrie was the first person to put together an
international data set on child labour. His initial figure of 79 million children
around the world who did regular work has since been revised upwards to 120
million children between the ages of 5-14 years doing full time paid work (ILO,
1996b; Ashagrie, 1998). If one includes part time work as well, then the ILO
(1996b) estimate goes up to 250 million working children. The estimate of child
labour would vary depending on how we define work, how we define a child,
and how we collect the data, but few would disagree that this is a problem of
gigantic proportions.

Diallo et al.,(2010) holds that, world trend indicates child labour has declined
over time, though at a very slow pace. About 215 million of the World’s
children aged 5-17 years, work for pay or family gain, nearly half of them full
time. This is a decline from 250 million children between 2004 and 2008. For
the children aged 5-14 years, the incidence rate declined from 17.6% to 16.2%
and 14.5% in 2000, 2004 and 2008, respectively (Hageman et al, 2006).

However, in Africa, especially Sub-saharan Africa, this is not the case; child
labour has continued to increase over time (Diallo et al., 2010). In 2004, the
incidence rate was 26.4%, increasing to 28.4% in 2008 (Diallo et al., 2010;
Hagemann et al., 2006). This has been attributed to high poverty levels and low
economic growth. Canagarajah and Nielsen (1999) agree with the poverty
attribute and observe that regional variations are mainly characterized by levels
of economic growth. Countries with high levels of economic growth have low
incidence of child labour and as the poorest continent, Africa has the highest
incidence of child labour, which is further differentiated within the continent.
In addition, African countries are dominated by household production, and
small land holdings which are more rural. There is also a combination of
cultural factors and norms that pull children towards the labour force (Bradley,

Bhalotra (2003) shows an uneven progress towards the goal of eliminating the
worst forms of child labour by 2016. Although overall global pattern of child
labour shows a decline, the 2016 target will be missed if the current slow trend
continues. Such indication is also given by the ILO (Hagemann, 2006, Diallo,
et al., 2010) whose report on children engaged in child labour in the world
indicated that 58% were in hazardous work in 2004, with this number slightly
declining to 54% in 2008. In Africa, almost 60% of children are engaged in
hazardous work and in Cameroon, this category was about 40,700 children who
apply pesticides or use dangerous tools like machetes in plantations (STCP, July

According to Basu (1999), sending children to work is the last income earning
resort a family takes as the capacity to provide them with basic entitlements
such as food, clothing, shelter, education and health care dwindles, which is a
result of high poverty level compounded further by high unemployment, HIV
and AIDS, low wages and the inability of the government to adequately ensure
that all children attain free, compulsory and quality education and health care.

According to the Cameroon’s National Institute of statistics (NIS, 2015) 40% of

the children from 5-17 years old (nearly 2.5 million of Cameroon population)
are involved in child labour and 85% of them work in the agricultural sector.
This situation impacts on their schooling and health. Majority of them are
working in quarries, the mines, fishing, etc. Using children in economic
activities tends to interfere with their education, and the attainment of
Millennium Development Goals (SDEG, 2009). The results of an investigation
on child labour realized in 2010 by the National Institute of Statistics of
Cameroon gave a percentage of 27.9% of children from 5-17 years old
compelled to work which was to be abolished. 4.4% of them carryout
dangerous work and 71% are exploited in agriculture, fishing, hunting, usually
in rural zone (NIS, 2010). There is therefore need to address the root
causes/determinants of child labour as this research work seeks to bring to lamp

1.2 Problem Statement

The development of any nation depends on its human resource but child labour
hinders human resource development. Child labour greatly contributes to the
poverty rate among the community as it increases the dropouts of children from
schools; it also decreases the school enrolment rate. In contrast, education
equips one with life skills which enables him/her to move from poverty to
prosperity, it is a part of any solution of eliminating /reducing the child labour
(JAMON, 2010).

As eluded earlier, a worldwide consensus exists that child labour should be

eradicated and as such international bodies, such as the International Labour
Organisation (ILO), World Bank and UNICEF, and countries have been
concerned about the use of child labour in the formal and informal sectors in
most developing countries (Barro, 1999). Accordingly, consumer organisations,
child welfare activists and policy-makers in most countries, including that of
Cameroon, have been taking various initiatives to combat child labour. These
measures include lowering employment opportunities for children through
harmonizing international child labour standards, and organized consumer
boycotts of products that involve of child labour in their production (Khanam,

It is not clear what explains the high child labour rate in Cameroon, as very few
studies have been conducted about the problem of child labour. In order to
address the key determinants of child labour, there is a need to have a clear
understanding of the nature and cause of child labour in Cameroon. Without this
knowledge, it would be difficult to formulate policies and interventions to
eliminate or reduce the phenomenon of child labour across the country.

Notwithstanding the universal concern about the prevalence and undesirability

of child labour, there has been disagreement on the policy responses,
particularly on how to reduce child labour. The formulation of policies that are
effective in curbing child labour requires an analysis of its key determinants.
Such awareness has been lacking in the recent debate on international labour
standards involving attempts to initiate trade sanctions against the use of child
labour. Therefore, better understanding the determinants of child labour might
also be important because of its potential impact on education policy and
poverty reduction strategies.
1.3 Research Questions

The main research question of this study is: what are the determinants of child
labour in Cameroon?

Specific questions include;

• To what extend does socio-economic factors, such as the income of

household head affects child labour in Cameroon?

• Does each of the following demographic factors, such as gender, parental

link, number of children in household, level of education, place of
residence, affects child labour in Cameroon?

• What recommendations can be made?

1.4 Research Objectives

The main objective of this study is: to examine the determinants of child labour
in Cameroon.

Specific objectives include:

• To underscore the effects of the level of income of household head on

child labour in Cameroon.

• Examining the effects of each of the following demographic factors like

gender, parental link, number of children in household, and place of
residence on child labour in Cameroon.

• Providing necessary recommendations.

1.5 Research Hypotheses

Ho1: Level of income of household head has no significant effect on child

labour in Cameroon.

Ho2: Gender, parental link, number of children in household, place of residence

each does not have any significant effects on child labour in Cameroon.
1.6 Significance of the Study

The future of every nation lies in her children and this can only be realized if the
children are well equipped with the necessary skills to enable them take over
from the aging population. Child labour from literature available indicates that it
depends to a great extent on the income of the family and the educational level
of parents concerned. This study is expected to throw more light into the
“problem” of child labour especially in the study area. It also seeks to bring
awareness of the issues concerned and how to address them.

The findings from the study will help the government and other authorities
concerned to know the magnitude of the problem of child labour in the study
area. The recommendations if implemented can help minimize the effects of
the problem of child labour in the study area. The research findings will also
add to the existing literature of knowledge. The research findings and
recommendations will spur interest in the area and call for further research in

1.7Organisation of the Study

The research has been organized into five chapters. The first chapter introduces
the research, identifies the key problem under investigation and further asks the
relevant research questions. States the objectives for the research and states
hypotheses. It further gives justification for the topic. The second chapter
presents a review of related literature on child labour and the framework of
relevant variables. Chapter three contains the data source, explains the methods
and procedures used in the study and defines the key data variables. The results
are presented in chapter four. This is a very important chapter in the research
because it provides the information to answer the research questions raised.
The findings are based on the data analyzed in this chapter. Chapter five
contains conclusion and policy implications


2.1 Conceptual Framework

2.1.1 The ILO Concept of child labour

ILO draws its concept of child labour from the ILO Minimum Age convention
No. 138 of 1973. The convention sets the minimum age which a child should
engage in any form of employment as 15 years. Any form of work that is in
violation of convention No. 138 is considered child labour and illegal and
should therefore be stopped. ILO went ahead and introduced child work and
child labour where the former should be accepted and the later eliminated. Four
groups of children engaged in work or labour are identified below.

- Working children

- Children who are economically active aged between 5 to 11 years are

considered to engage in child labour. Also children aged between 12 to
14 years and are economically active are considered to be engaged in
child labour except if they engage in light work for less than 14

- Children in hazardous work. Hazardous work is any form of work likely

to cause harm to the health, safety and moral development of a child.
This group involves children working in mines, construction or other
hazardous activities and includes children aged 18 years and below and
working 43 hours or more per week.

- The last groups are those children involved in the worst forms of labour
as defined by ILO convention No. 182. It includes children in forced or
bonded labour, armed conflict, prostitution and pornography, and illicit
The “worst forms of child labour” comprise:

a) Slavery and forced labour, including child trafficking and forced

recruitment for armed conflict,

b) The use of children in prostitution and pornography

c) The use of children in illicit activities; and

d) Any activity or work by children that by its nature or conditions, is likely

to harm or jeopardize their health, safety or morals – often referred to as
“hazardous work” (ILO, 2013).

Two points come out from this view of ILO. Firstly, from the four groups we
see the first group covering all activities which seem right according to ILO,
while the second and third groups cover activities of child labour which needs
to be eliminated and the fourth group gives a picture that needs an urgent action
for elimination.

ILO does not include children under the age of 5 since they are considered too
young to be working. The second point is that this definition only considers
work that can generate income such as production of goods and services. There
is no mention of household chores such as cooking, cleaning or taking care of
young ones. Gibbons, Huebler and Loaiza (2005) in criticizing the ILO
definition, argue that it is too narrow since it underrates the harm that work has
on children especially girls who mostly perform household work compared to
2.1.2: The UNICEF Concept of child labour

The ILO definition of child labour has been expanded by UNICEF by

considering the domestic work done by children apart from the economic work.
Child labour is defined by UNICEF as follows:

- Children 5-11 years engaged in any economic activities, or 28 hours or

more domestic work per week;

- Children 12-14 years engaged in any economic activity (except light

work for less than 14 hours per week), or 28 hours or more domestic
work per week.

- Children 15-17 years engaged in any hazardous work.

The goodness with the UNICEF definition is that it captures all work done by
children. This definition also gives an indication of child labour which is
harmful to children’s physical or mental development. However, it is of limited
value for an analysis of the trade-off between work and school attendance.

2.1.3 Background of Child Labour in Cameroon

European traders have been trading with coastal Africans before 1884, which
resulted to the Transatlantic slave trade, affecting millions of African children
and adults.Goodyasserts that apart from farming, children were also involved in
learning skills and traditional specialist occupations such as blacksmithing,
drum-making, divining, weaving, dyeing, mining, wood carving through kin
fosterage and apprenticeships. These part-time occupations were sometimes
learnt outside and sometimes within children’s immediate families. In this
apprenticeship framework, ‘sons live as dependent members of the household;
they do whatever work is needed, whether or not it is related to commodity
production … gradually they participate more directly in production and
eventually are full-time workers in the household industry’.He further notes that
in this framework, it was compulsory for the ‘master’ to provide for the
apprentice’s moral and social welfare while the latter respected and obeyed the
former without reserve.

The colonial period was characterized by pawning. Pawning is a system

whereby children or pawns live with creditors as collateral security when their
parents contract loans. The work that pawns perform for creditors is considered
as interest on the contracted loans. Upon marriage to a member of the creditor’s
household, the loan is cancelled. However, pawns were sold as slaves in
situations of famine, hardship, drought, political instability, and
warfare.Sometimes, a family’s inability to pay a witchdoctor or diviner for
services rendered may result in pawning. In Central Africa the charging of
interests on loans was a fairly recent phenomenon marked by the presence of
colonial parties from its coasts to the hinterlands. Girls were sometimes
preferred as pawns by creditors because they performed multiple functions -
human reproduction, farm workers, porters, and wives.

The period 1884-1945 witnessed the emergence of large scale internal migration
amongst native peoples from the hinterlands to coastal areas and the start of
urbanization processes in these colonies.Child labour was thus the means to
realize the colonial economies and policies put in place. Between 1884 and
1945, children’s labour was forcefully recruited in Cameroon and for the
development of plantations and public works schemes. Children and adults were
involved in agriculture, herding, manufacturing, warfare and hunting amongst
other activities. Some children were slaves and pawns. Since children were part
of the African indigenous work force, Europeans built capitalist economic
structures in Cameroon partly on this indigenous foundation. Children’s labour
was cheap, sometimes free, and was important for the production and
movement of crops to coastal towns and villages for export.

There was a low population density in most chiefdom on the eve of

colonization. For instance, in 1912, Cameroon’s population was only 2.6
million persons and there was scarcity of adult labour. In consequence,
colonialists transformed children from domestic or family workers into child
labourers. Thus German planters and administrators and French concessionary
companies forcefully recruited Cameroonians to work in coastal German
plantations, timber trade and rubber collection. The Treaty signed on the 23
August 1891 between Dr. Eugen Zintgraff representing the German colonial
government and Galega I, the chief of Bali Nyonga in Kamerun which in part
called on Galega I to recruit able and strong natives to work in German coastal
plantations also encouraged child labour. This is because; forced labour policy
decimated villages and forced children to lose parents through deaths and
desertion of villages to hide in the forests. Some children had to work as
domestic servants for European administrators.

Even though missionaries criticized child labour, they also engaged in it.
Missionary organizations in Kamerun and Gabon allowed their pupils and
students to work in farms and gardens without pay by growing crops for staff
and student consumption. Surpluses were sold in towns. Some male students
and pupils made furniture. Female ones cleaned staff houses and prepared staff
food and performed needlework. Money gained from these activities was used
to promote other missionary activities.

Forced labour and pawning was abolished, which influenced the development
of colonial labour markets. The colonial period from 1945-1960 saw the
abolition of forced labour and pawning which influenced the development of
colonial labour markets.
2.1.4 Causes Of Child Labour

In order to combat child labour we must understand the forces that gave rise
to it. These forces are primary, cultural and macroeconomic issues.

Primary Causes

International Labour organization (ILO) suggests poverty as the greatest

single causes behind child labour (ILO United Nations 2008). For impoverished
households, income from a child’s work is usually crucial for his or her own
survival or for that of the household.

Income from working children, even if small may be between 25 and

40% of the household income. Other schorlars such as Harsch on African child
labour, and Edmonds and Pavcnik on global child labour have reached the same
conclusion (Eric V. Edmonds; Nina Pavcnik 2005), (Ernest Harseh October

Lack of meaningful alternatives, such as affordable schools and quality

education, according to ILO on “child labour – causes” (ILO, United Nations
2008) is another major factor driving children to harmful labour. Children work
because they have nothing to do. Many communities, particularly rural areas
where between 60-70% of child labour is prevalent, do not possess adequate
school facilities. Even when schools are sometimes available, they are too far
away, difficult to reach, unaffordable or the quality of education is so poor that
parents wonder if going to school is really worth it. (Jo Boyden 1994) (Eric V.
Edmonds, Nina Pavcnik 2005).

Cultural Causes

In European history when child labour was common as well as in contemporary

child labour of modern world, certain cultural beliefs have rationalized child
labour and thereby encouraged it. Some view that work is good for the
character-building and skill development of children. In many cultures
particular where the informal economy and small household businesses thrive,
the cultural tradition is that children follow in their parents footsteps. Child
labour then is a means to learn and practice that trade from a very early age.
Similarly in many cultures the education of girls is less valued or girls are
simply not expected to need formal schooling and these girls pushed into child
labour such as providing domestic services. (ILO, United Nations 2008),
(Faraaz Siddiqi, Harry Anthony Patronos 1999). (Obinna E. Ositaoleribe
January 2007) (MichaelleTauson 2009) (Michele D’Avolio 2004).

Macroeconomic Issues

Biggeri and Mehrotra have studied the macroeconomic factors that

encourage child labour. They focus their study on five Asian nations including
India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Thailand and Phillipines. They suggests
(MarrioBiggeri, Santosh Mehrotra 2007) that child labour is a serious problem
in all five, but it is not a new problem. Macroeconomic causes encouraged
widespread child labour across the world, over most of human history. They
suggest that the causes for child labour include both the demand and the supply
side. While poverty and unavailability of good schools explain the child labour
supply side, they suggest that the growths of low – paying informal economy
rather than higher paying formal economy is amongst the causes of the demand
side. Other scholars too suggest that inflexible labour market, size of informal
economy, inability of industries to scale up and major macroeconomic factors
affecting demands and acceptablility of child labour. (Christiaan Grootaert;
Harry Anthony Pratrinos 1999) (Douglas Galbi 1997)

2.1.5 Forms of Child Labour in Cameroon

Cameroon is a source, transit, and destination country for children subjected to

forced labour and sex trafficking, and a country of origin for women subjected
to forced labour and forced prostitution. Trafficking operations generally target
two or three children, usually when rural parents hand over their children to a
middleman who promises an education or a better life in the city.

Child Trafficking

Child trafficking is a form of Child labour. The UNICEF Innocent Research

Centre provides:

The trafficking of children is one of the gravest violations of human rights in the
world today. Children and their families are convinced by the empty promises
of the trafficking networks - promises of a better life, of an escape route from
poverty - and every year, hundreds of thousands of children are smuggled
across borders and sold as mere commodities. Their survival and development
are threatened, and their rights to education, to health, to grow up within a
family, to protection from exploitation and abuse, are denied. Their plight is of
growing concern to governments, international agencies, NGOs and the media
and there is increasing awareness of the complexity of child trafficking as a
complex inter-country phenomenon.

Trafficking of children is a form of human trafficking and is defined as the

"recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring, and/or receipt" of a child for
the purpose of exploitation. It is said that a child has been trafficked if he or she
has been moved within a country, or across borders, whether by force or not,
with the purpose of exploiting the child.Trafficking has been and still is a major
problem in Africa today as it is all over the world. Countries in Africa such as
Cameroon have been identified as a source, transit and final destination for
trafficked victims.

ILO report on trafficking reported that Africa has been described as having the
highest percentage of child workers in the world. The statistics reveal that 80
million or 41% of African children work(UNESCO 2012). These children are
usually between the ages of five and fourteen and the largest percentage of these
child workers are the female children who are usually engaged as domestic
workers.(UNESCO 2012).

Cameroon by virtue of its being a party to the CRC is enjoined to take

appropriate measures to combat child trafficking in the region.The measures
taken by the government of Cameroon have so far cast doubts on Cameroon’s
commitment to the CRC; given the prevalence of child trafficking in Cameroon.

According to a report by the International Labour Organization (ILO),

thousands of Cameroonian children fall victim to trafficking every year.
Children are exploited as labourers on plantations and cocoa farmsand also as
workers in small shops, bars, and households (ILO 2013). It is common for a
middle-class family in Cameroon to have one or several children working for
them in exchange for a very modest wage and minimal education.The practice
of child labour in households and fields is a tradition that sometimes masks
trafficking. In rural areas, children as young as 4 are expected to work. A recent
survey sampled children and employers in Yaounde, in Limbe and in
Mbangasina, a region with large cocoa farms. The survey revealed that children
from Chad, the Central African Republic, and Nigeria were paid as little as
3,000 CFA francs per month to perform chores sometimes lasting 18 hours a
day. The children suffered from malnourishment and sexual abuse.

Child trafficking has recently been a disturbing issue to both the government of
Nigeria and Cameroon; occasioned by the Islamic Sect Boko Haram. On
December 14th 2014, Boko Haram insurgents kidnapped 185 women and
children and killed 32 in a raid in the village of Gumsuri, north of Chibok.At the
height of the attacks in northern Cameroon in February, Boko Haram deployed
children on the frontline. In the month of December 2014, security forces
arrested 84 boys from Koranic schools in northern Cameroon, some as young as
5, and since have held them without charges in a children’s detention centre.
Most of the children arrested by Cameroonian authorities are under the age of
10, and only three are older than 15.

2.1.6 Sexual Exploitation

Sexual exploitation is another fundamental violation of children’s rights. It is an

attack on human dignity and inhibits the social and economic development of a
country: destroying a child’s life through sexual exploitation also destroys his or
her chances of integrating into society.

Sexual exploitation of children is based on three closely linked themes.The first

is sexual abuse.It is the act in which a child is used for sexual purposes. The
abuse is carried out by a person (adult or older child) whom the child trusts
(parent, brother, a member of the extended family, teacher, guardian, etc.) or
any other person in a position of power, authority or control over the child. The
abuse may be physical, verbal or psycho-emotional. The second theme is sexual
violencewhich is characterized by any type of sexual relations imposed on a
child by force, coercion, threat or surprise by a person upon whom a child is
dependent or feels dependent: this pressure can cloud the child’s judgement and
restrict the independence of his or her responses. The pressure may be physical,
but is most often psychological: reduction, praise, reward, blackmail and
threats, and is often about keeping the act a secret as about the act itself.
Commercial sexual exploitation is characterized by the payment in cash or in
kind in exchange for sexual relations and implies the idea of profit, whether
economic, social or other. The commercial sexual exploitation of children is the
sexual abuse of any person under 18 years old, for remuneration in cash or kind
to the child or a third person or persons. The child is treated both as a sexual
object and as a commercial object. The commercial sexual exploitation of
children constitutes a form of coercion and violence against children, and
amounts to forced labour and a contemporary form of slavery.
The common form of commercial sexual exploitation of children in Cameroon
is child prostitution. Prostitution of children or child prostitution is prostitution
involving a child. The term normally refers to prostitution of a minor, or person
under the legal age of maturity.

Children in Cameroon are highly at risk for sexual exploitation. One out of four
children under eight years of age is orphaned while almost 30% of children
under five do not have the proper identification papers. Even worse, 26% of
children under eight are victims of serious physical abuse.

Trafficking of people for sexual exploitation occurs highly in Cameroon. Most

victims are children trafficked within the country, with girls primarily trafficked
for domestic servitude and sexual exploitation.The enabling factors for such
abuse are extreme poverty, the lack of parental support and an inadequate
legislation to combat this phenomenon. These factors also push young people
into prostitution. According to one study, around 4000 of children aged 11 to 17
are victims of child prostitution in Cameroon and most are forced into
prostitution between the ages of 9 and 17.

Despite being victims, the authorities treat these children as criminals and many
are arrested and then forced to have sex with police officers in order to be
released. Moreover, one out of every four children forced to work in the sex
trade is subjected to torture by both the clients and police.

Sex tourism is common in Cameroon, where officials and health advocates fear
its detrimental effects on HIV/AIDS prevention campaigns.

2.1.7 Hawking/ Street children

Children are engaged in the sales and services sector of the economy in both the
rural and urban areas as street hawkers, domestic servants, car washers, beggars
and even prostitutes. Children employed in these endeavours, often labelled
"street children", have run away from parental or guardian abuse, to make out a
living on their own. Hawking is a rampant activity in Cameroon especially in big
towns like Douala and Yaounde. It is also common in the South West and North
West Regions.

Table 1: Overview of children's work by sector and activity

Sector/Industry Activity

• Agriculture • Production of cocoa, bananas, coffee,

palm oil, rubber and tea

• Raising livestock.

• Industry • Work in artisanal gold mines and gravel


• Services • Domestic service

• Carrying heavy luggage and selling

goods on the street.

• Categorical worst • Commercial sexual exploitation

forms of child labour sometimes as a result of trafficking.

• Forced labour in the production of cocoa

and tea, in fishing, in domestic service, in
street vending and in work in spare parts
shops, as a result of trafficking.

• Forced begging

• Transporting drugs

Source:EnqueteDemographiqueet de la santé et a indicateurs multiples, 2011.

Street children who are used to transport drugs in the cities such as Yaounde
and Douala are at risk of being recruited into gangs. In the three Northern
Regions, it is a tradition to send boys to Koranic teachers to receive education.
While some boys receive lessons, others are forced by their teachers to beg or
perform other work and to surrender the money that they earn. Cameroon is a
source and destination country for the trafficking of children; Cameroon is also
a transit country for children trafficked between Gabon and Nigeria, and for
children trafficked to Europe. Child trafficking also occurs internally and is
prevalent in the North West Region.

Access to education is hindered by the remote locations of schools and the lack
of potable water in rural schools. In addition, the Government of Cameroon
reports that in many regions, fewer than 40% of children are registered at birth,
unresgistered children in Cameroon cannot access essential services including

2.1.8: Legal framework on the worst forms of child labour

Cameroon has ratified most key international conventions concerning child

labour as seen on table 2.

Table 2: Legal framework on the worst forms of child labour

Convention Ratification

• ILO C. 138, Minimum Age √

• ILO C. 182, Worst forms of child labour √

• UN CRC √

• UN CRC optional protocol on Armed conflict √

• UNCRC optional protocol on the sale of children,

child prostitution and child pornography

• Palermo Protocol on Trafficking in persons. √

Source: UN States department of Labour’s bureau of international Labour

Affairs, 2013.
In 2013, the Government ratified the optional protocol on the involvement of
children in armed conflict; however, it has not ratified the optional protocol on
the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

The Government has established relevant laws and regulations related to child
labour including its worst forms as seen on table 3.

Table 3: Laws and regulations on worst forms of child labour

Standard Yes/No Age Related Legislation

Minimum age of work Yes 14 Section 86 of the labour

code (3,9,31)

Minimum age of Hazardous Yes 18 Law No. 017; sections

work 86 and 87of the labour
code (3, 31, 32)

List of Hazardous Yes Law No 017 (32)

occupations prohibited for

Prohibition of forced labour Yes Article 4 of the

constitution, law No
2011/024; Article 292
and 293 of the penal
code; labour code

Prohibition of child Yes Law No 2011/024; Law

trafficking Project Relating to the
Fight Against
Trafficking in Persons
and slavery

Prohibition of commercial Yes Article 343 of the penal

sexual exploitation of code; Article 76 of Law
children No 2010/12 (33,34,38)

Prohibition of using children No

in Illicit Activities

Minimum age for compulsory No

military recruitment conscription

Minimum age for voluntary Yes 18 Presidential decree No

military service 1994/185 (40,41)

Compulsory education age Yes 12 Articles 9 and 16 of Law

No 1998/004 (42-44)

Free public education Yes Presidential decree No

2001/041 (5,12,45)

Source: UN States department of labour’s bureau of International Labour

Affairs, 2013.

While Law No. 017 sets a minimum age for hazardous work and prohibits
children from certain occupations, it does not prohibit work underwater and at
dangerous heights, which is often performed by children who fish or harvest
bananas. The law does not fully protect children working in agriculture,
domestic service, and street vending, even though many children are known to
work in these sectors. Labour laws do not extend to these children, who
typically work without formal employment contracts; moreover, health and
safety laws do not apply to all domestic workers. The Government lacks a
mechanism for protecting these children, since they are not covered by law.
The compulsory school age of 12 makes children ages 12 to 14 particularly
vulnerable to the worst forms of child labour, as they are not required to be in
school and are below the minimum age for work. Although Presidential Decree
No. 2001/041 establishes the right to free education in practice additional school
fees and costs of books and uniforms are prohibitive for many families. The
Ministry of Education offers fee waivers to disadvantaged primary students;
however, these waivers sometimes do not cover the costs or arrive late, which
means that parents must still pay some out-of-pocket fees. The government has
not criminalized the use of children for illicit activities.

2.1.9 Enforcement of laws on the worst forms of child labour

The Government has established institutional mechanisms for the enforcement

of laws and regulations on child labour, including its worst forms as seen on
table 4.

Table 4 Agencies responsible for child labour law enforcement.


Ministry of labour and social Lead efforts to enforce child labour laws,
security in cooperation with other government
bodies, including the Ministries of Social
Affairs, Justice, Women’s Empowerment
and the Family

National commission on Human Protect and promote human rights and

Rights and Freedoms investigate human rights abuses

Minors Brigade Investigate the use of children in

hazardous work and trafficking; work
within the public security sections of local
police stations; and work within public
security sectors of local police stations.

Ministry of Justice Contribute to investigations through

judicial auxiliaries and send files to court
for prosecution as appropriate.

Source: UN States department of Labour’s bureau of International Labour

Affairs, 2013.

2.1.10: Government policies on worst forms of child labour

The Government of Cameroon has established policies related to child labour,

including its worst forms as seen on table 5.

Table 5: Policies related to child labour.

Policy Description

Trafficking in persons action plan Outlines efforts to prosecute and convict

trafficking offenders, to educate law
enforcement personnel and social
workers, to develop and enact legislation
prohibiting the trafficking of adults, and
to train enforcement personnel on how to
use the human trafficking database.

PRSP Includes overall goals of poverty

reduction, increased access to health and
social services and improved
infrastructure such as education.

Country Program Action Plan UNICEF and Government – implemented

(2013-2017) program that addresses the full
development of Young Children and
builds on the previous Country Program
Action Plan
Source: UN States department of Labour’s bureau of International Labour

In 2013, the Government and UNICEF launched a new Country Program

Action Plan to address the full development of Young Children and build on the
previous Country Program Action Plan. The government appoints child
parliamentarians to provide recommendations on issues related to children
including child labour.

In 2013, the Government drafted a National Plan of Action to combat Child

Labour and Trafficking in children. However, it has yet to ratify or officially
approve the plan and it is unknown whether the plan addresses all relevant
worst forms of child labour.

2.2 Theoretical literature

Researchers have put forward both theoretical arguments and empirical

evidences from across the world on why children work. Literature therefore can
be grouped into either having theoretical arguments or providing empirical
findings. This chapter first discusses some arguments raised in literature that
may or may not be explicitly addressed in this dissertation but nevertheless help
in understanding the economics of child labour (demand and supply of child

2.2.1Economics of Supply of child labour

The economic theories related to the supply of child labour have long
recognized poverty as the major determinant of child labour. Literature has
developed a theoretical model to examine the household behaviour to examine
the child labour supply decision. Empirical literature, both at macro level and
micro level, has also emphasized on poverty as major determinant of child
labour supply. At macro level, studies have analysed the effect of GDP per
capita on the child labour incidence while at the micro level household income
or low parental wages are considered as the major determinant of child labour.
The sub- section therefore begins by reviewing what the basic household model
is predicting.

• Household Decision Making Model

In general, a unitary model (or common preference model) is used to predict

the child labour supply decision. In such model the household maximizes
utility, which is considered as a function of children in the house, the schooling
per child, the leisure time available to children and parents, and a composite
consumption good. Households earn income by selling goods produced in a
household enterprise or by working as wage labourers. Father allocates time
between market work and leisure; the mother allocates time among market
work and child rearing; and children allocate time among market work,
education and leisure [Brown et al., (2002)].

The empirical findings of such model show that:

• an increase in the father‘s wage will raise household income and if a

child‘s education is a normal good, then education will also rise,

• if the mother's work is a substitute for the child work then the higher the
mother's wage the lower will be child leisure and education,

• the rise in the mother‘s wage will also raise the child's education as well,
considering education as a normal good,

• An increase in child's wage would reduce the child schooling by

affecting its opportunity cost,

• Increase in child's wage may raise the demand for children as well
therefore, increasing the family size. This will again reduce the child‘s
schooling as fewer resources will be available per child – leading to a
trade-off between quality and quantity.
• Trade-off between Quality and Quantity

In general, utility function of the unitary household model often points out
towards the trade-off between Quantity and quality of children. As number of
children, schooling per child, consumption of goods and leisure all enters into
the utility function of the household together. Thus any changes in the child
wages will lead to trade-off between education and labour. The trade-off
depends on the household's budget constraint, personal ability of the child and
on the returns to home production. Poor parents cannot invest equally to all
children because of the limited household income.

There are empirical evidences that suggest that parents invest differently on the
human capital formation of the first and the last born. One theory indicates that
as the eldest child enters in the labour force, the household income becomes
stabilized and they invest more on the human capital formation of the youngest
child. The second theory indicates that the investment in a child depends on the
innate ability of the child. Therefore children can be assigned different tasks
depending upon their abilities. They could acquire education or acquire skills by
doing on-the- job training.

• Human Capital theories

The Human Capital Theory is based the on neo-classical theory of endogenous

growth. It assumes that people are productive resources. Hence higher education
will lead to higher productivity. Basic proposition behind this theory is that
parents make trade-off when allocating their children‘s time, especially for
education and labour. Their decision is based on family economic and social
conditions. Time spent on accumulating human capital affects child labour. A
parent‘s decision regarding the investment in their child‘s human capital
depends on returns to schooling. If the returns from schooling are high, the
number of working children would reduce. According to Schultz, (1961)
education increase productivity, labour quality and income at both individual
and national level.

• Parental Education and Schooling Quality

Bonnet (1993) argues that failure of the education system is an important

explanation for the prevalence of child labour. When parents do not expect
children to learn much in school, they decide to give them informal education in
terms of work. Cigno and Rosati (2000) provide an analytical model of non-
altruistic parents while Lopez-Calva, (1999) consider an infinite-horizon
overlapping generations model. Each generation has to choose how much to
educate their children, how much to save, and how much to transfer to their
parents when they retire. If one generation chooses to educate its children, the
children become more productive in the future. However, the parent will only
get a pay-off from the investments in their children if the children decide to
make a transfer back to the parents at retirement.

Strauss and Thomas (1995) stressing on the parental education argue that
parental years of schooling plays a significant role in reducing the child labour
incidence. Brown, argue that there is an empirical evidence that suggests
that a parent‘s education affects their future generation. Educated parents value
education, and hence invest in the human capital formation of their children
while parents who are illiterate themselves do not value education for their
children as well. Education affects the future income streams of the household
as well. This also motivates parents to invest in the human capital formation.
This implies that human capital formation is dependent on the returns to
schooling which in turn depends on the quality of schooling.

• Risk Theory

Poor household faces shocks and risks such as unemployment, natural disasters
effecting income like draught and flood, war etc. The income shocks could be
severe among the households who do not have enough reserve resources to meet
such shocks. These households are more likely to supply child labour if they
remain unable to borrow to smooth their present consumption needs. Literature
often points out that in extreme cases households could sell the future hours of
their child work to overcome the present income shocks. At the macro level,
Behrman et al., (1999) found out that macroeconomic instability has played a
major role in the low education attainment level in the early 1980s for the Latin
American and Caribbean countries. Duryea (1998) concluded that the parent‘s
unemployment reduces the probability of grade advancement among the
children. Jacoby and Skoufias (1997) working on the data of rural India provide
evidence that parents withdraw children from school during unexpected decline
in crop income.

• Credit Market Failure

Ranjan P. (2001) claims that child labour arises due to imperfections in the
credit market. Intuition behind the claim is the belief that if poor household
have access to well-functioning credit markets, they would borrow money to
smooth their present consumption hence invest in their child human capital by
sending them to school. Basu and Chau (2003) identify poverty and the absence
of reliable legal and financial systems through which the poor can secure loans
to safeguard against hunger or unexpected consumption needs.

Consequently, child labour grows out of an institutional arrangement in which

labour and credit contracts are inter-linked. Outstanding household debts are
sometimes paid through the labour services of children [Basu and Chau (2003)
as cited in ILO/IPEC-SIMPOC (2007)]. Baland and Robinson (2000) argue that
if parents expect that the household income will increase in future they would
borrow against that future income. But if the credit market is not well
functioning, poor household has to rely on child labour – the internal resource
available to them.
• Parents altruism and Mother’s Bargaining Power

Literature on child labour often assumes that parents are altruistic i.e. parent‘s
act is always in the best interest of their children. This means that children
would be in school rather than at work under favourable circumstances
[ILO/IPEC-SIMPOC (2007)]. But Humphries, (2003) illustrates that even when
parents are altruistic, child labour could arise as a result of extreme poverty.
According to Bhalotra (2004) Parent‘s altruism is a critical assumption in many
economic models, ranging from models of education and child labour to models
of macroeconomic policy. Incrementing the resources available to parents may
not improve child welfare if parents are incompetent, myopic or selfish (Mayer,
1997 as explained in Bhalotra, 2004).

Basu and Van (1998) argue that the role of parents is to some extent mis-
characterized in the literature. They elaborate that when children are working in
a society as a mass phenomenon, as in many less developed countries, it is
much more likely that this reflects not a difference in the attitude of the parents
but the problem of stark poverty. Bhalotra, (2004) in her in-depth analysis on
parent‘s altruism argues that altruism remains a relatively neglected issue in the
literature on household decision making. Furthermore, according to Patel et al.,
(2007) empirical work has refuted with the idea that parents know how to
allocate labour and other resources to improve household well-being.
Preferences have a large impact on the well-being of children. Resources
invested in a child are determined not only by the level of resources available,
but also by the parent‘s preferences.

Chiappori (1988) and Manser et al., (1980) suggest that preferences between
parents need not be the same. The outcome of mother and father‘s actions can
differ. Agarwal (1997); Chiappori (1988) and Manser et al., (1980) suggest that
bargaining power over household economic decisions, when held by women, is
associated with improved well-being for herself and her children than when the
same resources are in the hands of men [see also Haddad &Hoddinott (1994);
Rubalcava, Teruel& Thomas (2004); Thomas (1994)]. The existing economic
literature provides evidence that women invest more than men in children
because they are more altruistic. For example Kanbur and Haddad (1994) show
that, men usually spend most of the money on personal consumption while
women channelize a large share to their children's education and health.
Bargaining power affects the allocation of household resources as well as
schooling [Quisumbing and Maluccio, (2000).

2.2.2: Economics of Demand for Child Labour

Anker et al., (1998), based on the review of research studies analyses the factors
that may affect demand for child labour. According to him demand for child
labour arises because (i) children are submissive and innocent they create less
trouble (ii) perform repetitive task more easily, (iii) do not join trade unions (iv)
their physical structure makes them appropriate for certain tasks (v) employer
hire children in order to ensure the supply of skilled workers in future and (vi)
traditional occupations encourage the children to work with parents.

• Nimble Finger Hypothesis

The most common and traditional view about why demand for child labour is
based on the opinion that children have specific features that make them
effective in performing certain tasks such as making rugs, sports goods, mining
etc. This theory remains in circulation for a long time, especially during the
British industrial revolution. At that time textile mills were powered by water
and machinery was wooden hence children were very effective because of their
size to operate such machines. Children were also employed in mines because
of their small size as well. But the technological advancement of the 19 th
century substantially reduced the demand for child labour. Edmond (2003)
rejected the nimble finger argument by pointing out that children mostly work
in the agriculture sector while research on nimble finger argument is based on
the children employment in the industrial sector.

• Technological Progress

If the argument considered above is true then technological advancement should

reduce the demand for child labour. There is impulsive evidence available for
the technological advancement of 19th century that has reduced the demand for
child labour. As the demand for child labour was concentrated in the unskilled
sector therefore it could be easily controlled by adopting skilled based
technological advancement. For example the mechanization of Egyptian farms
during 1970 lowered the demand for child labour considerably. Hence skilled
based advancement is always documented in the literature as reducing the child
labour demand.

• Structure of the Labour Market

Among the demand-side determinant of child labour an important factor is

structure of the labour market especially level of market wages - both the wages
of children and those of adults. Cain and Mozumder (1980) have argued that the
economic value of children may not properly be assessed without reference to
structure of the labour market. Structure of the labour market determines the
level of wages, which in turn determines the contribution of child labour to
household income. Moreover the relative importance of the formal sector in the
economy and the degree of segmentation between formal and the informal
sector and its effect on child labour cannot be ignored as well. In general, the
evidence suggests that the extent of child labour in the formal economy is small.
In many countries there is a tendency towards in-formalization of production
methods, with formal enterprises either breaking up into smaller units or
subcontracting to households or informal enterprises (mainly to try to escape
social legislation and charges which add to the cost of labour). In such
conditions the demand for child labour may increase.
Another important factor pushing children to participate in the labour market is
the economic condition of the household due to prevailing unemployment
among the adults. Child labour is often viewed as a cause and a contributor to
adult unemployment rate and low wages.

2.3 Empirical literature

Grootaert and Patrinos (1998) examined the determinants of child labour in

Côte d’Ivoire using a sequential probit model. The key factors affecting the
household’s decision to supply child labour were found to be the following: age
and gender of the child; education and employment status of the parents;
availability of within-household employment opportunities; poverty status; and
geographic location.

Buchmann (2000), in a study done in Nairobi, Kwale and Murang’a, analyzed

the determinants of school enrolment in Kenya. The factors included family
structure, parental perceptions and child labour. The findings indicated that
children’s household labour accounted for less than 2 per cent of school absence
and there were no cases of children missing school due to paid employment.
Working opportunities were not found to have an effect in school drop-out rate.
The study also revealed that almost a third of children not enrolled in school
were not involved in productive activities.

Khan (2003) carried out a study in Pakistan on the determinants of child labour
and examined the socio-economic variables which affect the parents’ decisions
regarding children’s time utilization. The study used case study design and one
major finding of the study is that children from rich families, and who have
literate parents are more likely to go to school and less likely to work. The
results of the study also revealed that school attendance is negatively and child
labour is positively related to household size.
In their campaign to raise awareness on grim realities of child labour in 2005,
UNICEF (UK) indicated that children are pushed to work by two broad factors,
namely the supply factors and demand factors. The supply factors mainly
include returns to schooling, cultural traditions, poverty, level of education and
gender of household head, and credit market failure. The main demand factor is
“why employers want children”, with reasons being that children are cheap and
obedient, and that they give special attention to detail (UNICEF 2005).

Fares and Raju (2007) found the largest mean share of economically active
children in the world employed in agriculture (70%) followed by services (21%)
and then manufacturing (7%). This was consistent with the findings of Ashagire
(1997), and ILO reports. It is also uniform across most countries. In Kenya, the
ILO country report shows that 82 per cent of working children are in
agriculture, 15 per cent in services, and 2 per cent in industry (ILO/IPEC,

Jay et al., (2007) had identified and examined the relationship of child labour
with a large set of possible factors with the UNICEF data for analysis on 175
countries. Regression model was conducted using total child labour (the ratio of
children employed in their total population) as dependent variable. The
explanatory factors used in the study were: female literacy in the country
(mother’s education), economic growth rate (GDP growth rate) and the
proportion of population with income less than dollar a day (poverty). The
results found, showed that a 1 percentage point rise in female literacy can
reduce total child labour in a country by 25 percent. Similarly, a 1 per cent point
reduction in population below dollar a day can reduce 21 per cent point in total
child labour. Economic growth is quite an effective factor, especially in
reducing female child work

Khanam (2008), in Bangladesh, in a similar study on child labour and school

attendance, sought to understand better the determinants of child labour and
schooling. A multinomial logit model is used in estimating the determinants of
child labour and schooling. The study found that education of parents
significantly increases the probability that a school-aged child will specialize in
study (schooling); that the presence of very young children (aged 0-4) in the
household increases the likelihood that a school-aged child will combine study
with work. The study also finds that girls are more likely than boys to combine
schooling with work

Rubkwan (2008) investigated the various factors that influence a household's

decision of sending a child to work in Thailand. Econometric analysis was
carried out using data from the Thailand labour force survey (National Statistic
Office Thailand, 2003). Multiple regression model was estimated using number
of hours children worked in the last 7 days before the survey (child time of
work) as the response variable. The estimates of the model indicated that wage
impact significantly on the time that children allocate to work. Age had
significant effect on boys but insignificant effect on girls. The size of the
household affected the working time of children positively. Educated parents
were found to allocate fewer working hours for their children. The occupation
of the household head was also found to affect the working time of children.
Children from households in which occupation of the household head is related
to agriculture were found to be involved in some form of work.

Laurent and Sébastien (2010) investigated characteristics and determinants of

child labour in Cameroon, using data from the Cameroonian survey on
employment and informal sector. In this study, Binary probit and Tobit models
were estimated using child time of work as the dependent variable. Independent
variables used were grouped into: individual’s characteristics which are: the
sex, the age; the relationship with the household (biological child of the
household head). Household environment: the household income, the residence,
the size and the composition of household. Finally, household head’s
characteristics: the level of education, the type of employment, the age and sex.
They found in the estimated models, an increase in income together with
increase in household size resulted to a reduction in the time that a child spent
on work.

Moyi (2011) examined the causes and magnitude of child labour in Kenya. The
data used for this study was drawn from the second round (2000) of the
Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS). Multinomial logistic regression was
used in this paper. This study hypothesized that the socioeconomic status and
structure of the household would have a strong effect on child labour as well as
many children who were working to be attending school. The study found
children’s activities to be affected by their age and gender, how they are related
to the household head, education level of the household head, wealth of the
household and the children present in the household. Although the study found
that children of the household head were less likely to be working only and
attending neither school nor work; however, they had a higher probability of
combining both school and work. Urban children were found to combine school
and work four times less likely compared to their rural counterparts.

However, the current study is different from the research studies cited above in
that though most of the studies focus on the determinants of child labour in
other countries, Cameroon still has very limited literature to this aspect, and it
takes into consideration more explanatory variables that explain the
determinants of child labour. Thus, this research study will add value to the
literature on nature and determinants of child labour and its conclusions may be
used to improve government’s decision on how to curb or eradicate child labour
in Cameroon.


3.1 Area of Study

Cameroon is a country in Central Africa, located on the West coast of Africa

precisely at the Gulf of Guinea. It is bordered by Nigeria to the west; Chad to
the northeast; the Central African Republic to the east; and Equatorial Guinea,
Gabon, and the Republic of Congo to the south. Cameroon has an estimated
population of about 22.25 million inhabitants and covers a surface area of
475,442 km2 (World Bank, 2013). The country is often referred to as “Africa in
miniature” because it exhibits all major climates and vegetation of the
continent: coast, desert, mountain, rainforest, and savannah, and also for its
complex socio-cultural and geological diversity.

Cameroon’s economy is one of the most diversified in sub-Saharan Africa, and

when compared with others, Cameroon enjoys relatively high political and
social stability. This has permitted the development of agriculture, roads,
railways and large petroleum and timber companies. Cameroon is a net oil
exporter, as well as producer and exporter of cash crops such as cocoa, coffee,
cotton, timber, banana, tobacco, rubber, palm products, sugar cane, and
aluminum. Also, it produces goods for domestic consumption such as sweet
potatoes, plantains, cassava, maize, millet and livestock.

According to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Cameroon has one of the
highest school attendance rates in Africa with a literacy rate estimated at male
81.2% and female 68.9% ,(CIA world fact book 2016). However, according to
the US department of labour, the rate of child labour still stands at 36.5% in
Cameroon, (US embassy, Cameroon 2011). The children are either found in the
sectors of agriculture, industry, services or categorical worst forms of child
labour like commercial sexual exploitation, forced begging or transporting
drugs. The government of Cameroon has ratified several laws on the worst
forms of child labour. These laws include those of the International Labour
Organization (ILO), United Nations Convention on Rights of a child (UN CRC)
and Palermo protocol on trafficking persons. The agencies or organizations
responsible for enforcing these laws are the Ministries of labour and social
security, National commissions on Human Rights and Freedoms, Minor’s
brigade and the Ministry of Justice.

In international relations, Cameroon is a member of both the Commonwealth of

Nations and La Francophonie. Cameroon is also a member of major
international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF),
United Nations (UN) and their affiliates, African Development Bank (ADB),
African Union (AU), Central African Economic and Monetary community
(CEMAC), just to name a few. Cameroon has equally signed conventions and
treaties with other international organizations and countries such as the
Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU), the
New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the African Growth and
Opportunity Act (AGOA), the China-Cameroon co-operation, just to name a
few. Cameroon equally serves as a major aid to her peers of the CEMAC region
acting as both an export port for their exports (Chad-Cameroon pipeline
project), a potential market for their products and source of food supply. The
country also has friendly ties with many African and European countries such as
Japan, China, Israel, Belgium, Morocco, Egypt and South Africa, as well as
colonial ties with Germany, France and Britain. All of these make it possible for
her to acquire loans, grants, aids, investments, as well as debt cancellation from
them. In fact, one can say that the country is a “bread basket” for central Africa,
even though most of the resources are mismanaged by those to whom they are
3.2 Research design

To achieve our objectives, we have used secondary data from the 2010
Cameroon Labour Force Survey (LFS), which was compiled by the National
Institute of Statistics (NIS). The data set was preferred because the survey is a
labour force survey covering the whole national territory, which suits the nature
of this research study and it is the most recent of LFS in Cameroon. As earlier
mentioned, cross- sectional datawas the one used in the study.
As defined by Catane (2002), cross-sectional survey is a survey,which collects
data from a sample that is drawn from a predetermined population and the data
iscollected at one point in time. This design was found appropriate for this study
because it’srelatively economical in terms of time and cost efforts, as large
numbers of people can besurveyed relatively quickly.
The sample was drawn in a way that it should be representative at the national
scale, according to the residential area (urban, semi-urban and rural) and the 12
survey regions which are: Douala, Yaoundé, Adamawa, Centre (excluding
Yaoundé), East, Far- North, Littoral (excluding Douala), North, North- West,
West, South and South-West.

Data was analyzed using both descriptive and inferential statistics. A logit
model was used to analyze the effect of some selected factors (variables) on
child labour in Cameroon, while measures of central tendencies were used to
show the prevalence of child labour across some selected background
characteristics of individuals.

3.3 Model Specification

The central variables of the model are: Child Labour (CL), Parental Link (PL),
gender of Child (GEN), Religion affiliation of individual (RELI), Level of
Income of household head (YI), Place of Residence (RES), Successful years of
education (EDU) and Number of children in family (NUMCH). The
relationship between the dependent and independent variables can be expressed
in a functional form as follows;

CLi = f (Xi, Yi, Zi)…………………………………………… (1)


Xiis socio-economic factors of household i

Yi are observable demographic factors of household i

Zi are control variables of household heads i

Putting the above functional relationship into an econometric model will be;

CLi = β0 + β1PL + β2GEN + β3RELI + β4YI + β5RES + β6EDU + β7NUMCH +

μ………………………………………..… (2)

Where β0 = constant term

β1 = coefficient of Parental Link (PL)

β2 = coefficient of Gender of the child (GEN)

β3 = coefficient of Religious Affiliation (RELI)

β4 = coefficient of Yearly Income (YI)

β5 = coefficient of Place of Residence (RES)

β6 = coefficient of Number of successful years of education (EDU)

β7 = coefficient of Number of children in household (NUMCH)

µ = stochastic variable

i = number of households.
Table 6: Description, measurement and a priori sign of variables




CL Child Labour 1 If Child Labour _

0 Otherwise


PL Parental Link with 1 If related +/-

Household Head 0 Otherwise (not

GEN Gender of Child 1 If Male +/-

0 Otherwise (Female)

RELI Christian Dummy 1 If Christian +/-

(Religious 0 Otherwise
affiliation) Muslim Dummy 1 If Muslim +/-

0 Otherwise

Animist Dummy 1 If Animist +/-

0 Otherwise

YI Yearly Income Figure in FCFA --

RES Urban Dummy 1 If Urban +/-

(Place of 0 Otherwise
Residence) Semi-urban 1 If Semi-Urban +/-
Dummy 0 Otherwise

Rural Dummy 1 If Rural +/-

0 Otherwise

EDU Successful years of Number of successful •

education years

NUMCH Number of children Total number of --

in Household children

Source: Researcher’s calculations

3.3.1 Definition of Variables Child Labour (CL)

Child labour, the dependent variable, is a dummy variable indicating whether

(1) or not (0) the child performed any economic activity for non-household
members in the week before the survey. We restrict our analyses to children
aged 8–13. The upper limit was chosen because the ILO-conventions on child
labor permit light work for 14 and 15 year-olds in developing countries. Parental Link (PL)

Parental link refers to the relationship that exists between the children, and other
members of the household, and the household head. In this respect, five link
were identified and group, namely; child (son or daughter), relative, non-related
member, house-help and parents of the household head. Gender of Child (GEN)

Gender refers to the biological sex of the individual understudied. Individuals

were categorized into either male or female. We expect a positive or negative
marginal effect between child labour and sex. Religious Affiliation (RELI)

Religious Affiliation refers to a self-identified association of a person with a

religion, denomination or sub-denominational religious group. Households
under study were grouped into Christians, Muslims and Animists. Level of Yearly Income (YI)

Level of income refers to the annual revenue received by individuals for taking
part in an economic activity. The revenue is expressed in billions Franc CFA,
and it is a commutation of all revenues from primary employment earned by
individuals. Place of Residence (RES)

Residence refers to the place, especially the house, in which a person lives or
resides. Individuals in our survey were grouped into three categories with
respect to place of residence; urban, semi-urban and rural areas. We expect the
marginal effect to be positive or negative. Education (EDU)

The educational level is indicated by the number of successful years of

schooling by the children involved in child labour in the country. Education is
measured therefore by the number of successful years of education which is the
last successful class attended. Number of Children in Household (NUMCH)

This refers to all children in a household including relatives such as niece,

nephews, cousins etc, closed family friends living in the house and even house-
helps. Thus, a summation of all children is done to obtain the total number of
children in household.

3.4 Estimation and Validation Techniques

The parameters of the model specified above are estimated using the Logistic
regression technique. This technique was preferred because of the following:

 The dependent variable is a dummy variable, which takes the value 1 for
favourable outcomes (child labour) and 0 if otherwise (No child labour).
 If the linear regression is used, the predicted values will become greater
than one and less than zero. Such values are theoretically inadmissible.
 With the linear regression, there’s the assumption that the errors of
prediction are normally distributed. But with the logit model, since the
dependent variable only takes the values of 0 and 1, this assumption is
pretty hard to justify, even approximately.
 With linear regression, the variance of the dependent variable is constant
( homoscedasticity). This cannot be the case with a binary variable.
 With linear egression, the residuals will suffer from heteroskedasticity.

The parameters estimated were validated based on economic a priori test, first
order statistical test and second order econometrical test. The a priori test relates
the result to economic theory and seeks to find out if the sign and the magnitude
of the estimated parameters conform to economics theory. Statistical test is used
to validate the result on the basis of the level of significance, and measures such
as: pseudo R2, Standard deviation or error and the F-statistics will be used. The
econometrics tests are out to investigate the assumption of the error term, and in
this case, the assumptions were taken care of by regressing with the option


The data for this study comes from the 2010 Cameroon Labour Force Survey
(CLFS). This data set is the most recent, obtainable from the National Institute
of Statistics. In this chapter, both the results gotten from the linear probability
model and logistic regression analysis are presented in tables, and detailed
interpretations given. Data analysis was done with the use of Excel and STATA
statistical packages (version 13).

4.1 Presentation of Results

This section presents both the descriptive and empirical results of the study. It
begins with the descriptive statistics of variables of interest. The study shall
then proceeds with the empirical results which will bring out the factors which
actually determine child labour in Cameroon.

4.1.1 Presentation of Descriptive Statistics

Summary of descriptive statistics for our data set are presented in the table

Table 7: Summary Statistics of Variables.

Variable Observations Mean Std. Dev. Min Max

Child 2079 0.1583 0.3651 0 1


Parental 2079 1.2554 0.4471 1 3


Gender 2079 0.4892 0.5 0 1

Christian 2079 0.7229 0.4477 0 1

Muslim 2079 0.2535 0.4351 0 1

Animist 2079 0.0236 0.1517 0 1

Yearly 413 3.3528 14.5246 0 221.774


Urban 2079 0.6845 0.4648 0 1

Semi- 2079 0.1044 0.3058 0 1


Rural 2079 0.2111 0.4082 0 1

Education 1958 5.3744 2.1588 0 11

Number of 2079 7.3694 3.4589 1 28

children in

Source: Computed by the researcher from CLFS-2010 using STATA 13.

The study includes background characteristics of 2079 children aged 15 years

and less, who had worked at least one hour in the last seven days before the
census was conducted.

The table above which shows summary statistics revealed that the mean value
of Child Labour (CL) in Cameroon is 0.1583 insinuating that, on average,less
than 20% of children are involved in paid work or child labour. We also
discovered from the descriptive statistics analysis that Parental Link (PL) has a
mean value of 1.2554 and a standard deviation of 0.4471 indicating that most of
the parents are related to the children.It was also noticed that the mean value of
sex is 0.4892 indicating that more girls are involve in child labour in Cameroon
that boys.

The table above also shows that the most common religion is Christianity with a
mean value of 0.7229, followed by Muslims with mean value 0.2535 and by
Animists with mean value 0.0236. The descriptive statistics also revealed that
Yearly Income (YI) recorded a mean annual value of 3.35275 FRS in Cameroon
over the period of our study. Maximum and minimum values stood at 221.774
FRS and 0 FRS respectively. The standard deviation was 14.5246 FRS
indicating that the data points were not much closed to the mean.

It can be observed from the table above that majority of children used in this
study are resident in urban areas with a mean value of 0.6845, followed by rural
areas with a mean value of 0.2112, and by those living in semi-urban areas with
mean value of 0.1044. The mean value for Education is 5.3744 years indicating
that, on an average; each child has had at least 5 successful years of education;
with the maximum being 11 years while the minimum is 0 year.

4.1.2 Pairwise Correlation Matrix

A correlation analysis was carried out to determine the extent of relationships

between the variables used in our model, and the results obtained are presented
in the table below
Table 8: Correlation Matrix
CL PL Sex Christian Muslim Animist YI Urban Semi- Rural EDU NUMCH

CL 1

PL 0.01 1

GEN 0.05 -0.4 1

Christian 0.02 0.08 0.02 1

Muslim -0.01 -0.09 -0.01 0.94 1

Animist -0.02 0.03 -0.04 -0.25 -0.90 1

YI 0.07 -0.04 0.14 -0.02 0.03 -0.04 1

Urban -0.36 0.03 -0.6 0.22 -0.25 0.07 0.17 1

Semi-urban 0.04 0.04 0.02 -0.13 0.15 -0.05 -0.00 0.50 1

Rural 0.38 -0.06 0.05 -0.15 0.17 -0.04 -0.17 -0.76 -0.18 1

EDU -0.10 0.02 -0.07 0.26 0.27 0.01 0.06 0.33 -0.12 -0.29 1

NUMCH 0.05 -0.06 0.00 -0.18 0.21 -0.06 -0.04 0.10 0.04 0.08 -0.05 1

Source: Computed by the researcher from CLFS-2010 using STATA 13.

The correlation matrix above shows that there is a weak correlation between the
dependent variable and the independent variables, and amongst independent
variables under studied since |r|<0.5. This makes the result void of the risk of

Looking at the result from table above, we observe that Parental Link (PL),
Gender(GEN), Christianity dummy, yearly income (YI), resident in semi-urban
and rural areas and Number of Children in Family (NUMCH) have positive
relationship with our dependent variable; meanwhile Muslim and animist
dummies, urban residents dummy and Successful years of education (EDU)
have negative relationship with child labour..

Our result also reveals that the correlation coefficient between urban and Rural
dummies is -0.76. However, this is not a severe problem since no independent
variable has perfect collinearity with the dependent variable, and all of their
correlation coefficients do not exceed 0.8. This is because multicollinearity is
not really a serious problem unless there is perfect collinearity (Gujarati, 2004)

4.1.2 Presentation of Empirical results

This section presents empirical results from our regression analysis both from
the linear model and logistic model. The logistic regression analysis was more
preferable because our dependent variable (Child labour) is a dummy variable,
taking 1 if the child has work at least one hour in the last seven days before the
date of the census and 0 otherwise.The model was regressed with the option
‘robust’ so as to take care of the problems of Multicollinearity,
Heteroskedasticity and Autocorrelation.
Table 9. Linear Regression results Number of obs = 376

F( 10, 365) = 3.24

Prob> F = 0.0005

R-squared = 0.0800

Root MSE = .3966

Variable Coef. Std. Err. t P>t Conf. Interval]

link -0.02295 0.046894 -0.49 0.625 -0.11516 0.069269
Gender 0.08492 0.042911 1.98 0.049 0.000536 0.169303
Muslims 0.015152 0.052114 0.29 0.771 -0.08733 0.117633
Christians -0.21084 0.182196 -1.16 0.248 -0.56912 0.147451
status -0.41243 0.099002 -4.17 0 -0.60712 -0.21775
income 0.002423 0.001204 2.01 0.045 0.000056 0.00479
Education -0.0246 0.01041 -2.36 0.019 -0.04507 -0.00413
Number of
children in
family 0.017005 0.005552 3.06 0.002 0.006088 0.027923
Semi urban 0.326755 0.128399 2.54 0.011 0.074261 0.579248
rural 0.047652 0.060363 0.79 0.43 -0.07073 0.16603
_cons 1.189351 0.128187 9.28 0 0.937273 1.441429

Source: Computed by the researcher from CLFS-2010 using STATA 13.

Table 10: Logistic Regression Results Showing Some Factors or
Determinants of Child labour in Cameroon.



Parental Link 0.1840 -0.0308

(Ref: not related) (0.2900) (0.2900)

Gender 0.4917 0.0550

(Ref: female) (0.2648)* (0.2648)*

Religious Affiliation

Muslims Dummy (Ref - -


Christians Dummy 0.0855 -0.0174

(0.1413) (0.1413)
AnimistsDummy -0.2173 -0.2183

(0.4537) (0.4537)

Yearly Income 0.0400 0.0078

(0.0232)* (0.0232)*


(successful years of education) -0.2157 (0.0528)*** -0.0061 (0.0528)***

Number of children in family 0.1155 0.0133

(0.0503)** (0.0503)**

Place of Residence

Urban (Ref category) - -

Semi-urban Dummy 1.3243 0.1216

(0.4782)*** (0.4782)***

Rural Dummy 1.3339 0.1749

(0.2755)*** (0.2755)***

Constant -0.5440 -0.0308

(0.8273) (0.8273)

Number of observations 372

LR Chi2 (9) 38.55

Prob> Chi2 0.0000

Pseudo R2 0.1002

Source: Computed by the researcher from CLFS-2010 using STATA 13.

Notes: ***p<0.01, ** p<0.05, * p<0.10. Values in parentheses are standard

Looking at Table 10 above, we realize that our result is quite robust as the value
of Prob>chi2 is 0.000, which indicates that our model is globally significant at
1%. This is to say that we are 99% sure or confident in our results.

It can be observed from the table above that the coefficients of parental link and
gender of the child are all positive (0.1840 and 0.4917 respectively), indicating
that there is a positive relationship between the parent being related to the child
and child labour, and that more boys are involved in paid work at tender age
(child labour). However, this result is insignificant for parental link but
significant at 10% for gender of child.

The table also reveals that while the coefficient of the Christian dummy is
positive (0.0855) that of Animists is negative (-0.2174). This means that more
children from Christian religious background and less from animists’
background are involved in child labour when compared to children from
Muslim religious background. However, these results are all statistically

The coefficient of yearly income is positive (0.0400) while that of education is

negative (-0.2157). This indicates that an increase in household head’s yearly
incomes increases the child involvement in paid jobs (child labour), and an
additional successful year of education reduces the chances of the child
involved in child labour. This result is statistically significant at 10% for yearly
income and 1% for education.

The coefficient of number of children in family is positive (0.1155), indicating a

direct relationship between family size and child labour. That is, an increase in
the number of children in a family increases the chances of child labour in that
family. This result is statistically significant at 5%.

Furthermore, the coefficients of the semi-urban dummy and rural dummy are all
positive, meaning that children from semi-urban and rural areas are more
exposed to child labour than their counterparts who live in urban areas. This
result is statistically significant at 1%.
4.2 Discussion of Results

Here, we shall now proceed with the discussion of the results obtained from our
regression analysis so as to give a meaningful explanation of the results. We
shall however focus only on determinants which significantly affects child
labour in Cameroon. This will thus enable us to draw conclusions and make
necessary recommendations.

4.2.1 Gender of Child

Our result above revealed that there is a positive relationship between being a
male child and being involved in child labour. The value of the marginal effect
result indicates that the probability of a male child involved in paid jobs is
0.05units greater than that of female children. This result conforms to our a
priori expectation and the result is statistically significant at 10%.

A simple explanation to this fact is that male children are seen to be the stronger
sex and can undertake risky jobs and easily adapt conditions than their female
counterparts. This result is in line with that of Grootaert and Patrinos (1998)
who examined the determinants of child labour in Côte d’Ivoire using a
sequential probit model, and found that gender of the child (male) has a
significant effect on child labour.

4.2.2 Yearly Income

Yearly income of parents and child labour has a positive indicating that the
more the yearly income of parents increase, the higher the chances of the child
involved in paid jobs. However this result does not conform to our a priori
expectation even though it is significant at 10%.We expected that when the
yearly income of parents’ increase, the chances of children been involved in
paid jobs reduces, since the parents can afford to provide the basic needs of the
Thus, this result is in disagreement with that of Laurent and Sébastien (2010)
who investigated characteristics and determinants of child labour in Cameroon
and found out that an increase in the income together with increase in household
size resulted to a reduction in the time that a child spent on work.

4.2.3 Education

Our results above revealed that education and child labour has a negative
relationship, that is, an increase in the number of successful years of education
reduces the probability of a child involved in child labour. This result is in
accordance with our a priori expectation, and it is statistically significant at 1%.

An explanation for this relationship is that most intelligent children who

succeed in studies have less time for work, and are often encouraged by their
parents to study harder. This results in line with that of Khan (2003) who
carried out a study in Pakistan on the determinants of child labour and examined
the socio-economic variables which affect the parents’ decisions regarding
children’s time utilization, and found out that school attendance is negatively
related child labour.

4.2.4 Number of Children in Family

Number of children in family and child labour have a positive relationship,

indicating that as the number of children increase in the family the greater the
odds of the children being involved in child labour (paid jobs). More concretely,
the value of the marginal effect indicates that the probability of a child being
involved in paid jobs increases by 0.01 when the family increases by one child.
This result is statistically significant at 1% and the sign conforms to our a priori

A simple explanation for this relationship is that when the number of children in
a family increases, the parents finances becomes insufficient to carter for the
need of all the children and family expenses, hence necessitating children to
work and support their parents. This result concords with that of Rubkwan
(2008) who investigated the various factors that influence a household's
decision of sending a child to work in Thailand, and found out that the size of
the household affected the working time of children positively.

4.2.5 Place of Residence

According to our results, the semi-urban dummy and rural dummy have a
positive relationship with child labour. This means that children who are
resident in semi-urban and rural areas have more chances of being involved in
paid labour than their counterparts of urban areas. This result is statistically
significant at 1% but does not however conform to our a priori expectation.

However, this result is in line with that of Moyi (2011) who examined the
causes and magnitude of child labour in Kenya, and found out that urban
children were found to combine school and work four times less likely
compared to their rural counterparts.

Comparative results of Logit and the Linear Probability Model

Variable coef/standard Remark Variable coef/standard Remark
error error

Parental 0.1840 Insignificant Parental Link -0.0229 Insignificant

Link (0.2900) (0.0469)
Gender 0.4917 sig. at 10% Gender 0.0849 sig. at 5%
(0.2648)* (0.0429)**
Christians 0.0855 Insignificant Christians 0.0152 Insignificant
(0.1413) (0.0521)
Animist -0.0217 Insignificant Animist -0.2108 Insignificant
(0.4537) (0.1822)
Marital 0 (omitted) Marital status -0.4124 multi-
status multi- (0.1822) collinearity
Yearly 0.0400 Sig. at 10% Yearly income 0.0024 Sig at 5%
income (0.0232) (0.0012)**

Education(s -0.2157 Sig. at 1% Education -0.0246 Sig. at 5%

uccessful (0.0528)*** (successful years (0.0104)**
years of of education)
Number of 0.1155 Sig. at 5% Number of 0.0171 Sig at 1%
children in (0.0503)** children in (0.0056)***
family family
Semi urban 1.3243 Sig. at 1% Semi urban 0.3268 Sig. at 5%
(0.4782)*** (0.1283)**
Rural 1.3339 Sig. at 1% Rural 0.0477 Insignificant
(0.2755)*** (0.0604)

Source: Computed by the researcher from CLFS-2010 using STATA 13.

Notes: ***p<0.01, ** p<0.05, * p<0.10. Values in parentheses are standard


 With logit only three variables are insignificant while with LPM four are
 Marital status omitted for both prob>t=0 suffering from multi
 With logit the variables are significant at very high level than that of the
LPM implying logit gives better results
 With logit, most of the variables show positive relationship while with the
LPM most of the variables show negative relationship.


5.1: Summary of findings:

This study examines key factors and characteristics determining child labour in
Cameroon. The data used for this study comes from the 2010 Cameroon
Labour Force Survey (CLFS) obtained from the National Institute of statistics.
Data has been analysed with the use of Excel and STATA statistical packages
(version 13).The results from our findings depict that parental link, Sex,
Christianity dummy, yearly income, resident in semi-urban and rural areas and
number of children in family have a positive relationship with child labour.

On the other hand, successful years of education and Animist dummy have a
negative relationship with child labour.

In order for Cameroon to attain her objectives of an emerging nation by 2035,

knowledge of child labour should be underpinned and measures put in place to
eradicate it if not reduce it to a minimum threshold.

The researcher has discussed an overview of children’s work by sector and

activity which shows that children work in agricultural and industrial, tertiary
sectors and also categorical worst forms of child labour like sexual exploitation,
forced begging and transporting drugs. In an attempt to redress child labour in
Cameroon, the government has ratified most key international conventions
concerning child labour and has also put laws and regulations on worst forms of
child labour enshrined in the labour and penal codes of the country. The
question to answer is if the agencies like the MLOSS, NCHRF, Minors brigade
and the Ministry of Justice are actually exercising and implementing the laws
put in place in an attempt to combat child labour.
5.2 Recommendations

Given that child labour is a serious violation of the right of the child in
Cameroon, measures should be taken to intensify the fight against child
trafficking. It is recommended that the government of Cameroon should take
appropriate measures to redress child labour in the area of education. The free
primary education is a good step in combating child labour, but more needs to
be done. The government should be engaged in a sensitization campaign to
educate parents to see the importance of a child’s education. This will
encourage parents to send their children to school rather than subjecting them to
forced labour.

The government should ratify the UN CRC Optional Protocol on the sale of
Children, child prostitution and child pornography.

The government should prohibit the use of children in illicit activities, including
the production and trafficking of drugs.

Address regional disparities in probability of child labour by allocating more

educational resources to regions with high child labour probability, while at the
same time taking into account gender effects.

The government should significantly increase the number of labour inspectors

according to the ILO recommendation.

Ensure that all children, regardless of refugee status, have access to education
by eliminating school related fees, teacher strikes, and sexual harassment of
girls. Make additional efforts to provide all children with birth registration.
5.3: Conclusion

Child labour is a major problem in Cameroon because it hinders human

resource development and needs to be redressed. The main determinants are
parental link, gender of child, religious affiliation, and yearly income, place of
residence, number of successful years of education, and number of children in
household. In Cameroon, children work in the agricultural sector, industry,
services (domestic services, carrying of luggage and selling goods on street),
and other categorical worst forms like prostitution, forced begging and
transporting drugs which constitute serious violations to human rights. The
major effects are seen in low school enrolment rates, high drop out from
schools, poor growth and development, high adult unemployment and a
persistent cycle of poverty.

It is therefore imperative for government to look at the determinants of child

labour closely which this research work has brought to lamp light before
thinking of getting long lasting solutions. Nonetheless, the government has
ratified some international conventions concerning child labour, put laws and
regulations on worst forms of child labour, and has also created agencies
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