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Voting with Your Children: A Positive Analysis of Child Labor Laws

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  • Matthias Doepke

    (UCLA)

  • Fabrizio Zilibotti

    (UCL)

Abstract

We develop a positive theory of the adoption of child-labour regulation, based on two key mechanisms. First, parental decisions on family size interact with their preferences for child-labour regulation. Second, the supply of child labour affects skilled and unskilled wages. If policies are endogenous, multiple steady-states with different child-labour policies can exist. The model is consistent with international evidence on the incidence of child labour. In particular, it predicts a positive correlation between child labour, fertility and inequality across countries of similar income per capita. The model also predicts that the political support for regulation should increase if a rising skill premium induces parents to choose smaller families. A calibration of the model shows that it can replicate features of the history of the UK in the 19th Century, when regulations were introduced after a period of rising wage inequality, and coincided with rapidly declining fertility and rising educational levels.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by UCLA Department of Economics in its series UCLA Economics Working Papers with number 828.

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Date of creation: 01 Feb 2003
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Handle: RePEc:cla:uclawp:828

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Web page: http://www.econ.ucla.edu/

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Cited by:
  1. Kevin H. O'Rourke & Ahmed S. Rahman & Alan M. Taylor, 2008. "Luddites and the Demographic Transition," NBER Working Papers 14484, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Kevin H. O'Rourke & Ahmed S. Rahman & Alan M. Taylor, 2007. "Trade, Knowledge, and the Industrial Revolution," NBER Working Papers 13057, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Jeremy Greenwood & Ananth Seshadri, 2002. "Technological Progress and Economic Transformation," Economie d'Avant Garde Research Reports 3, Economie d'Avant Garde.
  4. Antonio Ciccone & Giovanni Peri, 2003. "Skills’ Substitutability and Technological Progress: U.S. States 1950-1990," CESifo Working Paper Series 1024, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Basu, Kaushik, 2005. "Child labor and the law: Notes on possible pathologies," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 169-174, May.

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