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Why Children Work, Attend School, or Stay Idle: The Roles of Ability and Household Wealth

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Author Info

  • Marigee P. Bacolod
  • Priya Ranjan

Abstract

This paper offers a theoretical and empirical analysis of child labor, schooling, and idleness (neither work nor school), with particular emphasis on the roles of child ability and household wealth in determining these decisions. We show theoretically that “idleness” may be chosen optimally by low-income households whose child is of low ability. Using a rich data set from the Philippines, we find that while other factors—including mother’s labor supply, the presence of a family business, and access to good school quality—contribute to these decisions, child ability and household wealth are the most important determinants of child idleness and the use of child labor. An implication of our findings is that any policy aiming to reduce child labor and increase child schooling should also target improvements in child ability and cognitive development through investments in the nutrition and health of poor children.

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File URL: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/resolve?id=doi:10.1086/588165
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Economic Development and Cultural Change.

Volume (Year): 56 (2008)
Issue (Month): ()
Pages: 791-828

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:ecdecc:v:56:y:2008:p:791-828

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Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/EDCC/

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Cited by:
  1. Connie Bayudan-Dacuycuy & Lawrence Dacuycuy, 2013. "Is schooling forever doomed with child labor around? An analysis using Philippine time use data," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 33(1), pages 138-151.
  2. Prashant Bharadwaj & Leah K. Lakdawala & Nicholas Li, 2013. "Perverse Consequences of Well Intentioned Regulation: Evidence from India's Child Labor Ban," NBER Working Papers 19602, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Ellen Webbink & Jeroen Smits & Eelke Jong, 2013. "Household and Context Determinants of Child Labor in 221 Districts of 18 Developing Countries," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 110(2), pages 819-836, January.
  4. Chaudhuri, Sanjukta, 2009. "The School Going Child Worker: An Analysis of Poverty, Asset Inequality and Child Education in Rural India," MPRA Paper 19687, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Krisztina Kis-Katos, 2012. "Gender differences in work-schooling decisions in rural North India," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 10(4), pages 491-519, December.
  6. Ralitza Dimova & Gil S. Epstein & Ira N. Gang, 2011. "Migration, Transfers and Child Labor," Working Papers 297, Institut für Ost- und Südosteuropaforschung (Institute for East and South-East European Studies).
  7. Epstein, Gil S. & Kahana, Nava, 2008. "Child labor and temporary emigration," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 99(3), pages 545-548, June.

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