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Is product boycott a good idea for controlling child labor? A theoretical investigation

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  • Basu, Kaushik
  • Zarghamee, Homa

Abstract

A popular form of action to curb child labor and uphold international labor standards in general is a 'product boycott' by consumers. There are labeling agencies that inform us if, for instance, a carpet or a hand-stitched soccer ball is free of child labor. The presence of a consumer boycott will typically mean that products tainted by child labor will command a lower price on the market than ones certified to be untainted. It is popularly presumed that such consumer activism is desirable. The paper formally investigates this presumption and shows that consumer product boycotts can, in a wide class of situations, have an adverse reaction that causes child labor to rise rather than fall. This happens under weak and plausible assumptions. Hence, there has to be much greater caution in the use of consumer activism, and one has to have much more detailed information about the context where child labor occurs, before using a boycott.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Development Economics.

Volume (Year): 88 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (March)
Pages: 217-220

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Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:88:y:2009:i:2:p:217-220

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/devec

Related research

Keywords: Child labor Product boycott Labor standards;

References

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  1. Ronald B. Davies, 2000. "Abstinence from Child Labor and Profit Seeking," University of Oregon Economics Department Working Papers 2000-1, University of Oregon Economics Department, revised 01 Aug 2002.
  2. Ranjan, P., 1999. ""Credit Constraints and the Phenomenon of Child Labor"," Papers 98-99-12, California Irvine - School of Social Sciences.
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  7. Arnab K. Basu & Nancy H. Chau & Ulrike Grote, 2006. "Guaranteed Manufactured without Child Labor: The Economics of Consumer Boycotts, Social Labeling and Trade Sanctions," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(3), pages 466-491, 08.
  8. Elias Dinopoulos & Laixun Zhao, 2007. "Child Labor and Globalization," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 553-579.
  9. Saqib Jafarey & Sajal Lahiri, 1999. "Will trade sanctions reduce child labour? The role of credit markets," Economics Discussion Papers 500, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
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  11. Harald Grossmann & Jochen Michaelis, 2007. "Trade Sanctions and the Incidence of Child Labor," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(1), pages 49-62, 02.
  12. Kaushik Basu, 2004. "Child labor and the Law: Notes on Possible Pathologies," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2052, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  13. Eric V. Edmonds & Nina Pavcnik, 2005. "Child Labor in the Global Economy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(1), pages 199-220, Winter.
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  16. Jean-Marie Baland & James A. Robinson, 2000. "Is Child Labor Inefficient?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(4), pages 663-679, August.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Heather Congdon Fors, 2012. "Child Labour: A Review Of Recent Theory And Evidence With Policy Implications," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 26(4), pages 570-593, 09.
  2. Eugenia Fotoniata & Thomas Moutos, 2013. "Product Quality, Informality, and Child Labor," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17(2), pages 268-283, 05.
  3. Matthias Doepke & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2010. "Do international labor standards contribute to the persistence of the child-labor problem?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 15(1), pages 1-31, March.
  4. Stéphane Pallage & Alice Fabre, 2010. "Child Labor and Aggregate Fluctuations," 2010 Meeting Papers 1037, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  5. Irving Rosales, 2013. "Learn, sweat or steal: a theory of development and the activity of children," Working Papers 0613, Universidad Iberoamericana, Department of Economics.
  6. Doepke, Matthias, 2013. "Exploitation, Altruism, and Social Welfare: An Economic Exploration," CEPR Discussion Papers 9509, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Alice Fabre & Stéphane Pallage, 2013. "Child Labor, Idiosyncratic Shocks, and Social Policy," Working Papers halshs-00913666, HAL.
  8. Michele Di Maio & Giorgio Fabbri, 2013. "Consumer boycott, household heterogeneity, and child labor," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 26(4), pages 1609-1630, October.
  9. Philippe Delacote, 2009. "Boycotting a dictatorship: who does it really hurt?," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 29(3), pages 1856-1862.
  10. Hyejin Ku, 2014. "Fair Trade in the Fields of Florida: The Impact of the Penny-Per-Pound on Tomato Pickers," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1416, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.

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