Skip to main content

Indonesian Children's Views and Experiences of Work and Poverty

  • Sharon Bessell (a1)

While the causes of child labour are multifaceted and complex, economic disadvantage is generally identified as an important contributing factor. Child labour is also cited as perpetuating poverty. The precise relationship between child labour and poverty is, however, contested. This paper aims to deepen understanding of the relationship between children's work and poverty by focusing on children's views and experiences. Drawing on research with children in Indonesia, this paper examines two questions. First, how do working children define and experience poverty? Second, how do working children view the relationship between their work and poverty?

Hide All
Abebe, T. (2008), Ethiopian Childhoods: A Case Study of the Lives of Orphans and Working Children, Trondheim: Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
Anti-Slavery Society (2008), ‘Why do children work?’,, 9 October.
Atkinson, A. B. 2003Multidimensional deprivation: contrasting social welfare and counting approaches’, Journal of Economic Inequality, 1, 1, 5165.
Bappenas Poverty Reduction Committee (2005), ‘Strategi Nasional Penanggulangan Kemiskinan’, ‘National Poverty Reduction Strategy’, Bappenas, Jakarta.
Beazley, H. (2003), ‘The construction and protection of individual and collective identified by street children and youth in Indonesia’, Children, Youth and Environments, 13, 1.
Bennett, L. (2005), Maidenhood, Islam and Modernity: Single Women, Sexuality and Reproductive Health in Contemporary Indonesia, London/New York: Routledge/Curzon.
Bessell, S. (1999), ‘The politics of child labour in Indonesia: global trends and domestic policy’, Pacific Affairs, 72, 3.
Bessell, S. (2005), ‘Women in Parliament in Indonesia: denied a share of power’, in Tremblay, Manon and Gallagher, Yvonne (eds.), Sharing in Power: Women in Parliaments in Transitional and Developing Counties, Aldershot: Ashgate.
Bessell, S. (2007), ‘Responsive policy and service delivery for children’, in Nevile, A., Bessell, S. and Moore, T. (eds.), Responsive Policy and Support Services for Children, Policy Brief 4, Crawford School of Economics and Government, Canberra: The Australian National University.
Bourguignon, F. and Chakravarty, S. R. (2003), ‘The measurement of multidimensional poverty’, Journal of Economic Inequality, 1, 1, 2549.
Boyden, J. (1997), ‘Childhood and the policy makers: a comparative perspective on the globalization of childhood’, in James, A. and Prout, A. (eds.), Constructing and Reconstructing Childhood: Contemporary Issues in the Sociological Study of Childhood, London: Routledge.
Burr, R. (2004), ‘Children's rights: international policy and lived practice’, in Kehily, M. J. (ed.), An Introduction to Childhood Studies, Berkshire: McGraw-Hill International.
Burr, R. (2006), Vietnam's Children in a Changing World, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press.
Conticini, A. and Hulme, D. (2007), ‘Escaping violence, seeking freedom: why children in bangladesh migrate to the street’, Development and Change, 38, 2, 201–27.
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (1996), ‘No time to play: child workers in the global economy’, available at, 30 September 2008.
International Labour Organization 1996 Child Labour: What is to be Done, Geneva: International Labour Office.
International Labour Organization (2004a), Child Labour in Offshore Fishing, North Sumatra: A Rapid Assessment, Jakarta: ILO.
International Labour Organization (2004b), Child Labour in the Informal Footwear Sector in West Java: A Rapid Assessment, Jakarta: ILO.
International Labour Organization (2004c), Child Labour in the Informal Mining Sector in East Kalimantan: A Rapid Assessment, Jakarta: ILO.
International Labour Organization (2006), ‘The end of child labour: within reach’, Global report under the follow-up to the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, Report of the Director-General, International Labour Office, Geneva.
International Working Group on Child Labour (IWGCL) (1998), ‘Forgotten on the Pyjama Trail: a case study of young garment workers in Menkes (Morocco) dismissed from their jobs following foreign media attention’, Defence for Children International and the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, Geneva.
James, A. and James, A. L. (2001), ‘Childhood: towards a theory of continuity and change’, The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, 575, 2537.
Levison, D. (2000), ‘Children as economic agents’, Feminist Economics, 6, 1, 125–34.
Liebel, Manfred (2003), ‘Working children as social subjects: the contribution of working children's organizations to social transformation’, Childhood, 10, 3, 265–85.
Montgomery, H. (2001), Modern Babylon? Prostituting Children in Thailand, Oxford: Berghahn Books.
Morrow, V. (1996), ‘Rethinking childhood dependency: children's contributions to the domestic economy’, Sociological Review, 44, 5877.
Nieuwenhuys, O. (1994), Children's Lifeworlds: Gender, Welfare and Labour in the Developing World, London: Routledge.
Punch, S. (2002), ‘Youth transitions and interdependent adult–child relations in rural Bolivia’, Journal of Rural Studies, 18, 2, 123–33.
Ridge, T. (2002), Childhood Poverty and Social Exclusion, Bristol: The Policy Press.
Silvey, R. (2000), ‘Stigmatized Spaces: gender and mobility under crisis in South Sulawesi, Indonesia’, Gender, Place and Culture, 17, 2, 143–61.
UNICEF 2003 ‘Kondisi dan Situasi Pekerja Anak pada Beberapa Sektor di Tulungagung dan Probolinggo, Jawa Timur’, UNICEF, Jakarta.
Weiner, M. (1990), The Child and the State in India: Child Labor and Education Policy in Comparative Perspective, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
White, B. and Tjandraningsih, I. (1998), Child Workers in Indonesia, Bandung: AKATIGA
Wolf, D. L. (1992), Factory Daughters: Gender, Household Dynamics, and Rural Industrialization in Java, Berkeley: University of California Press.
Woodhead, M. (1998), ‘Children's perspectives on their working lives: a participatory study in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, The Philippines, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua’, Stockholm: Radda Barnen.
Woodhead, M. (1999), ‘Combatting child labour: listen to what the children say’, Childhood, 6, 1, 2749.
Woodhead, M. (2001), ‘The value of work and school: a study of working children's perspectives’, in Lieten, Kristoffel and White, Ben (eds.), Child Labour: Policy Options, Amsterdam: Aksant.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Social Policy and Society
  • ISSN: 1474-7464
  • EISSN: 1475-3073
  • URL: /core/journals/social-policy-and-society
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 5
Total number of PDF views: 80 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 281 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 22nd March 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.