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Economic Justice Lesson for Kids: Definition & Issues

Instructor: David Wilson

David has taught college history and holds an MA in history.

We have many ideas about fairness and money, resulting in attempts to create economic justice through taxes, trade, investment, and welfare. Learn about our programs for economic justice and their impact on society in this lesson.

Fair Pay

Do your parents make you do chores? Most kids are stuck with a number of different tasks they have to do, like mowing the lawn or washing the dishes. Some parents pay kids an allowance to do chores; others make them do it just because they can! If there's ever been a time when you thought that you weren't getting paid enough to help out around the house, you might be interested to know we've set up laws to ensure economic justice, creating fairness about money to help out society. Some parts of economic justice are simple, like paying people a fair wage, while others are more complicated.

Photo of child workers about 100 years ago
Child workers

Tackling Poverty

For as long as humans have used money, there have been people living in poverty without much money, or any at all. However, only recently has economic justice focused on lifting poor people up to have enough money to live comfortably. One of the main goals of economic justice is reducing poverty, and perhaps one day eliminating it. Economists study poverty using statistics and provide numbers that help society develop plans for social welfare, the services that help poor people.

Photo of poor people during the Great Depression receiving a meal at a soup kitchen
Soup line

Most social welfare covers the basics for life, including food, medicine, and a place to live. Some countries have more social welfare than others: European countries are famous for programs that give money to people who cannot find work. Poorer countries may have little or no welfare, so persons who have an accident or get sick might need to depend on charity.

Working Rights

A hundred years ago or earlier, people had to do whatever work they could to get by. You might not get vacations, or sick days, or even bathroom breaks! Back then, workers could only get economic justice if they came together and demanded rights like an 8-hour workday and weekends off. This process of coming together is called unionization, and it changed the way we think about work and pay forever. Today, huge unions help workers get good pay, good working conditions, and fair treatment.

Cartoon making fun of President Theodore Roosevelt taking sides against coal barons
Strike breaker cartoon

Unions can go on strike whenever they feel that a company isn't giving them the pay or treatment they deserve. During the 1800s, workers who went on strike could be fired or intimidated into working again, but today laws are in place that give workers the right to strike peacefully.

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