The national poll of more than 1,000 randomly selected adults, commissioned by ChildFund International and conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, found that 77 percent of those surveyed said they would be unlikely to purchase clothing made through child labor.
When asked if they would be willing to pay more for clothing made without child labor, just over half (55%) indicated that they would. Among those indicating a willingness to pay more, the average person said they would be willing to spend one-third (34%) more.
“This spring’s collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh has focused the world’s attention on the often-hazardous working conditions that many workers in developing countries confront every day, and while it appears that the more than 1,000 victims of that tragedy were adults, the fact is these factories regularly employ children as young as 10 years old,” says Anne Lynam Goddard, president and CEO of ChildFund International, an international child development organization serving children and their families in 30 countries.
“These survey findings provide telling insight into Americans’ attitudes about child labor and should help companies understand that they need not make economic choices over moral ones,” Goddard adds. “I believe that American consumers will become increasingly educated about the source of the products they purchase and begin making more knowledgeable and ethically driven buying decisions.”
As of now, however, the survey indicates a significant underappreciation among Americans for the extent of child labor within developing countries. UNICEF estimates that about 150 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 are being used as child laborers, often in exploitative and dangerous situations. When asked to approximate this figure, only 1 percent of those surveyed estimated that there were at least that many, with three in four (73%) assuming the worldwide number to be under 1 million children.
Goddard emphasizes that not all child labor is exploitative or necessarily harmful to children, noting that many children within developing countries work on their families’ subsistence farms or are engaged in other labor to supplement the families’ income.
“The dual nature of our concern,” she notes, “is when a child is compelled to work in unsafe conditions or when any work a child is engaged in serves to interrupt his or her education. These survey results indicate that, while Americans don’t have a full appreciation for the extent of the problem, they do have an intrinsic understanding of the negative impact that child labor has on a child’s future.”
The Ipsos poll of 1,022 randomly selected adults aged 18 and over was conducted June 26-30 via Ipsos’ U.S. online panel. The precision of the poll is measured using a credibility interval, and in this case, it is considered accurate to within +/- 2.5 percentage points had all U.S. adults, aged 18 and over, been surveyed. These data are weighted to ensure that the sample’s regional and age/gender composition reflects that of the actual U.S. population according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
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