Prevalence and potential consequences of child labour in India and the possible impact of COVID-19 - a contemporary overview

Med Sci Law. 2021 Jul;61(3):208-214. doi: 10.1177/0025802421993364. Epub 2021 Feb 9.


Child labour is a global phenomenon occurring predominantly in countries with lower socioeconomic status and resources. Societal and familial poverty, loss or incapacitation/illness of parents, lack of social security and protection, and ignorance about the value of, or limited access to, education are among the myriad reasons for the involvement of children in the workforce. Child labour is a barrier to the development of individual children and their society and economy. Global estimates indicate that 152 million children (64 million girls and 88 million boys) are working, accounting for almost one in 10 of all children worldwide. Currently the COVID-19 health pandemic and the resulting economic and labour market consequences are having a major impact on people's lives and livelihoods. Unfortunately, impoverished families and their children are often the first to suffer, which may push many more vulnerable children into child labour situations. Child labour in India is more prevalent than in many other countries, with approximately 10 million children actively engaged in, or seeking, work. This paper focuses on the issue of child labour, its causes and its ill effects. Further, it also reviews the international legal framework relating to child labour and legislative issues in India. There is clearly an urgent need for this issue to be effectively addressed and resolved.

Keywords: COVID-19; Child labour; child abuse; child development; child health; exploitation; poverty.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child Labor / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India
  • Male
  • Poverty
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Conditions*
  • Socioeconomic Factors