Bolivia Brings in World's Lowest Working Age
Work by 10-year-olds legalized
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 18, 2014 3:25 AM CDT
Lucas, 13, polishes shoes on a street in La Paz, Bolivia.    (AP Photo/Juan Karita)

(Newser) – The Bolivian government has brought in the lowest working age of any country in the world, giving the OK for children as young as 10 to work as long as they are self-employed and also go to school. Children 12 and over will be allowed to work for others as long as their parents consent.The government says it isn't trying to get more kids into the labor force, but it is simply changing the law to reflect reality in a poor country where hundreds of thousands of children as young as five work, some of them shining shoes on city streets and others laboring in mines, the BBC reports.

"Child labor already exists in Bolivia and it's difficult to fight it. Rather than persecute it, we want to protect the rights and guarantee the labor security of children," one of the bill's sponsors says. But the United Nations says children under 14 shouldn't be allowed to work, and the children's rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch says the law is a step in the wrong direction. "Bolivia's move is out of step with the rest of the world," she tells the AP. "Child labor may be seen as a short-term solution to economic hardship, but is actually a cause of poverty," she says, explaining that children who start work at a young age end up making less money as adults than those who stayed in school, perpetuating a cycle of poverty in which their own children are more likely to have to work.

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Jul 18, 2014 7:55 PM CDT
Free Market Capitalism: The Face of Evil.
Lou Bernardo
Jul 18, 2014 11:17 AM CDT
The U. S. should set an example for the world where we only allow children under 16 to work as drug runners and street gang members hustling drugs.
Jul 18, 2014 10:11 AM CDT
It's ok if it were kids with newspaper routes, but this insane move will be used to exploit children. They will end up making trinkets for pennies a day. It would be better for the Bolivian government to crack down on child labor and exploitation rather than lower the age and make it appear necessary and acceptable.