Child Labor in Mexico

The need for children in Mexico to work is a very common circumstance. Twenty-nine percent of school-aged children in Mexico are members of the labor force. The necessity for a child to work varies between families. Birth order as well as the number of children in a family greatly influence on whether or not a child will work. Gender is also a factor in whether a child will participate in the work force. Of 15-19 year olds, 52.2% of males and 23.9% of females are in the labor force.

Working children significantly impact the economic welfare of their families. Generally, children in the labor force are in the lowest socioeconomic class. Working children usually have parents with fewer years of education. Parents of children in the labor force also desire less schooling for their children than parents of non-working children.

The type of work that children in Mexico do depends on whether they work for relatives or non-relatives. Girls who are employed by their parents often work as merchant's assistants. While, boys who work for their parents often are laborer's assistants. These children usually work about seventeen hours per week. A boy usually earns twice as much as a girl, and will contribute twelve percent of the household income, while a girl will contribute about five percent of the total income. Children who do not work for their own parents usually work as gardeners if they are boys and maids if they are girls. These children tend to work 23-28 hours per week. These boys contribute 48% of the household income while the girls contribute 27% of the household income.

The hours that Mexican children spend working could hurt a child's future because they take away from the hours for leisure and education. In most other countries moderate labor hours can improve future employment opportunities performance for minors. However, in Mexico, children's labor force activities are not likely to enhance future labor because they only require minimal training. Children in the labor force receive substantially lower grades than children who do not work. Plus, the working child is academically disadvantaged compared with non-working children. The working child does not usually have the benefits of receiving the highest education possible.

Country Profile Education Health Help for Mexico's Children Street Children

The purpose of our website is to increase awareness about the lives of children in Mexico using the themes of agency, social structure, and diversity. Due to the limited information we were able to access, this website will focus on the situation of the lower class.

This information was compiled by the following source: Binder, Melissa and David Scrogin. 1999. "Labor Force Participation and Household Work of Urban Schoolchildren in Mexico: Characteristics and Consequences." American Journal of Sociology 122-54.

This website was created by Julie Harrell, Brian Kristoff, Elizabeth Larson, and Ashley Warren, students in Professor April Brayfield's Children and Society Freshmen Writing Seminar at Tulane University. This site is part of a class study of Childhood Around the World.

updated December 15, 2000