Today many people and organizations are concerned about child labour. Various research projects study child labour, and numer ous books and studies have been published on the subject. The concerns partly stem from the kinds of work children do, some of which cause irreversible physical or psychological damage or even threaten their lives, and partly from the overwhelming number of children who work. This textbook is meant to serve students in any region or country of the world who want to understand an important and often overlooked aspect of the social and economic reality that surrounds us all. The number of children working in the world today is higher than most people think, although it is difficult to obtain anything more than an educated global estimate. This is firstly because many kinds of child labour are underreported, and secondly because many countries have no desire or incentive to publicize how many of their young people work. Nevertheless, statistical techniques allow us to estimate that 211 million children aged 5 to 14 and an additional 141 million children aged 15 to 17 are “economically active”, i.e. are involved in some form of work. These numbers bring a number of key questions to mind: Why do children work? What forces them to do work? Why does society permit it? Most people want to study child labour because they want to improve children’s conditions. They do this by asking a lot of questions about why children work, about school and education and how it relates to work, about whether children have to work, about who sends them to work, about the nature and conditions of their work, about who benefits from their work, about their health status, and even about whether work for children might be a good thing. We will discuss some of these questions in this book. Some are self-evident, but others that might appear clear-cut at first turn out to be rather complex.